Long time ago, I read a book by a famous author and a passage that I read stuck to my mind. The author encounters a man on a train journey who sits motionless and unperturbed while his children create a ruckus disturbing fellow passengers. Unable to bear the racket the children are creating and feeling irritated that the father should do nothing to control their behaviour he makes his point to the man, rather rudely. That is when the man is shaken out of his reverie and apologises to the author telling him that he is returning from his wife’s funeral and doesn’t know how to handle himself, much less the kids. The author talks about how this revelation suddenly caused a paradigm shift in the way he reacted to the situation and finds himself offering help to the same man he was being so judgemental just a few minutes ago!
Isn’t that so very true of us? How quick we are to pass judgement about a fellow human being! We don’t know what his side of the story is, so who are we to judge him? There is always a story behind every person. There is a reason why they are the way they are. We might do well to keep that in mind. Moreover, we aren’t perfect too, so we are in no position to comment about another. We haven’t walked in the other person’s shoes, we haven’t travelled the path they have travelled, we haven’t lived their sorrows, or fear or pain or laughter. Being judgemental or controlling or criticising someone, does not define who they are, it actually defines who we are.
My closest friend was widowed at a very young age of 26, just 3 years after being married, losing her husband to cancer. She took up a job for financial stability and continued wearing her “mangalsutra” (an auspicious symbol of being married). That drew a lot of criticism from her family and relatives, who thought she was either remarried or a rebel. Little did they know that she was trying to protect herself from the unwanted male attention that she would attract if people knew that she was a widow. Also she felt closer to her late husband sporting the one symbol of marriage he had given her.
Have you ever noticed how people have so much interest in other people and their kids? If a kid is hyperactive, he is not being brought up properly, if he is slow, his parents are not paying enough attention to him, if he is poor academically, he practically has no future, and if he is goes to boarding school, there must be something wrong with the family, don’t they love him enough? What we don’t realise that everyone is a genius; we cannot judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, can we?
We could as well be at the receiving end too! We are constantly being judged for everything from the clothes we wear, the life we lead, the company we keep, to the choices we make. If a couple has been married for more than two years and still do not have kids, there must be something wrong with either of them! It may sound hilarious, but we had our first child more of out a compulsion or obligation to society (read: family) rather than out of our own will!!! The family wouldn’t understand that we were more inclined to build our careers first, before having a new addition to our family! At every family function I would be asked, if I had any good news to convey!!
We cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves by trying not to be judgemental. Because when we point a finger at someone, we mustn’t forget that the other four fingers are pointing to us!!! It is easy to judge the mistakes of others, but difficult to recognise our own.
And when people judge you, have the confidence to be who you are. Some people have so little going on in their lives, that they would rather discuss yours. There is no need to worry about impressing other people, it is enough that we try to impress ourselves alone.