He seemed to be always in the vicinity when I took my walk around our subdivision. More importantly, he seemed to always be in a sour mood on those occasions. The first time I passed by him, he was quietly sitting on a bench, but he had a frown on his face. I stopped the smile that I was supposed to give him and thought to myself that he might be a snob. He had the same look on five more occasions I passed by him doing different things. Hence, I stuck to my conclusion about him – he’s a snob and someone who does not want to be befriended.
One day, however, my view about him took a 360-degree turn. During my regular walk that fateful day, I saw him sitting on the same bench with an older person in a wheelchair. I also happened to overhear him answer a question from another passerby (who seems to know him personally) when the older person got discharged from the hospital.
Right then and there, I realized that I had totally misjudged him despite not knowing even a fraction of who he is or what he goes through. I misjudged him after seeing him with a frown on his face during every encounter. I didn’t even have a single conversation with him but I judged his character right away.
The thing is I made all those conclusions and created stories inside my head, painted him in a bad light because of those chance encounters, which coincidentally showed him as someone disagreeable.
I realized that most of the time, human beings tend to judge others based on their observations without trying to understand what the other person is going through or went through to develop such a disposition.
“He does not have anyone with him at home, people might not like living with him.” “He has a lot of tattoos, he must be a gangster.” “He’s always at home, he must be unemployed.” “He’s having an argument with an elderly, he must be disrespectful.” These are some of the judgmental things I hear which most of the time are unfounded.
With the countless people I encountered and the experiences I had with many of them, I used to think that I knew the meaning behind people’s behaviors and that I was knowledgeable enough about human behavior to make a conclusion about the kind of people they are. The thing is I do not have any right to judge, as I always say, because I do not even fully know all the people who are dear and close to me, how much more are those people I only encounter in passing.
What lesson did I learn from this encounter? It is a lesson I am reminded of over and over. There’s always more beneath what we see on the surface. Therefore, let us choose to understand rather than judge.
(Photo by karatara)