It’s time to welcome back the wise one in my family- Mother Polka Dot. The one who plaited my hair when I was growing up, who wiped my tears and who gave me the warmest hugs. Not only is she the most beautiful women you’ll ever meet but she’s always up for with a cup of tea and a chat and makes the best chicken soup you’ll ever eat. You can read previous musings from Mother Polka Dot here.
In my travels through life I have learned some very hard lessons and one of the hardest has been that there are two sides to every story.
I think it is human nature to make positive or negative judgments about people just on appearance alone. Years ago, a member of my family, as part of his high school education, went with his classmates and spent a week sleeping in a hall and assisting in the care of homeless people. He worked in the soup kitchen, sat amongst groups of these people and listened to their stories. What struck him, were the fascinating stories these people told about their lives, the reasons they lived on the streets, and the way they embraced these young school students who were helping them. It certainly squashed any preconceived notions he had about these people – these were suddenly very human to him, with feelings and life stories to tell – some of them tragic.
As we go about our days, we constantly make unconscious judgments about the people we encounter, or situations we face. We hear a bit of gossip about another employee and (unconsciously) instantly feel we can make a judgment about that situation, we look at the clothes someone is wearing and a random thought flashes across our mind, we see the person in tattered clothes and dreadlocks – gee – he must be from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’!
But we haven’t heard the story from the employee herself, or the person in tattered clothes – their story – as they live it.
The stories we see on the television just after the news – the so-called ‘current affairs’ programs, and yes, dare I say it, Dr Phil, are touted as ‘stories to make people aware – for the public good’ – but are they really? Don’t we all just sit there and think, ‘Well, I would never do that ‘, or feel some degree of self satisfaction because our life is surely not as bad as ‘theirs’! These stories are so one dimensional they are, or should be, making us cringe!
The times when I have been most critical, I have noticed that I have swiftly been put in my place later by an event that has taught me to be more accepting and mellow, and to reserve my judgment to a private corner of my mind! I have come to understand that judgment comes out of a place of wanting/needing to feel superior (shock..horror…who, me?)
Sometimes it is easier to judge than to move into the realms of accepting that you don’t know the full story, and need to mellow those feelings of superiority. And after all, who are we to be so superior that we feel we can sit in judgment of another? Do we all not have our own foibles, idiosyncrasies and particular life situations that are far from perfect?
How nice it would be to live in a world where our first thoughts were of kindness, compassion and empathy. To realise that everyone has a story. And to truly accept another human being or a situation on face value would be a soul filling and wonderful thing.
I keep working on it every day.