Looking around at media, social media, workplace conversations, dinner table talk, and the arts and entertainment industry, I fear it’s getting dark. We have become so very judgmental, it’s almost terrifying.
We say we don’t judge, and we pretend to be open-minded, but we make assumptions about people based on where they live, how they talk, how they walk, how they respect (or resist) authority, the color of their skin, how they vote, the number of birthdays they’ve had so far, the number of kids they have or don’t have, the style of their hair, the clothes or accessories or markings they wear, the gender that they were born with or that they have claimed, the family they grew up in, the church or group they belong to, the job they perform. Ugh.
We assume, and then we judge. We disagree with someone’s perspective, and we judge them as lesser or inferior. We label them as different from us and therefore not as good. Ugh.
And then that judgement turns into an inability to connect, to value, to treasure each other, to reach our greatest potential together. And we cut ourselves off from the wonder that exists in each God-created being. Ugh.
We hole up closer only to those who appear “just like us” until we see they’re not like us either, and we cut them off too. Ugh.
What a dark and lonely and miserable cycle we’ve created.
For many us, a not-so-recent Christmas service may have included a ceremony in which candles were lit within a darkened room. Within a gathering of people, the lights were dimmed, and one person held a single candle. That person in turn shared their flame with a few others, who each shared it with the person next to them, who passed it to the person next to them, and on and on and on, until the room shone with the light of a hundred or more candles.
What if we could spread kindness like candlelight? What if by suspending judgement today for the person next to you, and seeing them as the valuable human being that they are, it’s the equivalent of passing light forward?
What if, for the next 30 days, we deliberately and actively sought to celebrate our differences?
What if, for the next 30 days, we consciously and deliberately made a habit of seeking the unique best in the person standing in front of us, and challenging any assumptions of our own that creep into our heads and hearts.
What would that look like? What if we could create a community, a society, a nation, a world that judges less and loves more?
What if we could build someone up by asking a question to understand, rather than assuming and tearing down or closing off?
I think we can.
I think it’s worth a try.
For each and every human being you encounter in the next 30 days, ask yourself these questions:
- When I see this individual, what value judgements am I making based on my own framework and perspectives?
- What negative perceptions or uninformed assumptions can I willingly suspend (What baggage can I ditch)?
- What positive connection can I make with this individual?
“It only takes a spark to get a fire going…” were the words to a campfire song I grew up on, “…and soon all those around can warm up to its glowing”.
Here’s to a brighter next 30 days!