Judging Others … And You Know You Do

ExplainingNever judge a man by what he says.  Try and find out why he said it.”

Eugene William Helms, in “Reflections of a Cornfield Philosopher”,p. 23

We live and work in a world which demands immediate decisions about many things …

Sometimes this is good or at least acceptable.   When someone else is in danger, you have no option but to act … and you do so based on what you know in the moment.  Sometimes a quick decision is all that stands between honor and dishonor, success and failure, life and death.

Other times, the judgment is simply a small one in the scheme of things and whether you say “yea” or “nay” is a matter mostly for temporary reflection, if even that.   Which type of sandwich to order in a fast-food line or the shirt you wear to cut the grass … non-essentials and ephemeral.

… but sometimes you need to take the time, even when you are feeling pressured, to find out more.

We also live in a world which demands that we take a side, select a position, make a stand …

We move though our world identifying and categorizing others by their positions.  If someone is a member of a specific group, we move either toward or away from fellowship.   If someone makes a statement with which we differ, we tend to slide them into our column marked“Enemy”, “Other“, or worse “Idiot”.


How might things change if we all took more time to understand the emotions, the experiences, the beliefs, and the values behind the words?

Well, I am not sure, but I’m willing to find out … all it costs is a little time to ask, to listen, and to respect.   We can do this …

    We can ask a person why they believe as they do …. without snarkiness or agenda, without looking for flaws in their thinking, without hatred.  Ask because you really want to know, because you will understand better when you know.  

    We can listen to what the person says … understanding that, just as we may not honestly trust them, they may not trust us with as strong and valid reasons.

    We can reflect on what they have shared … everyone has their story, their life lived, their convictions.   Try to see another’s view as different, but as worthy as a belief as yours.   You still may not agree or consider their belief  acceptable, but maybe you will understand a little better why they hold that belief … and interact a little differently with them because of this. (This is the hard part)

When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes; when you leave, you judge him by his heart.                                        Russian Proverb

Trying to make non-hasty decisions and take the time to ask, listen, and think about it in the Heartland ….