Blinding Judgement

When we judge others, we blind ourselves to the beauty of human spirit. Using our minds to oversee what we see is one of the tragedies in life. Our assumptions create differences that were never really there.

A truly blind person is not one who cannot see, but one who chooses not to see.

Here is an obvious life rule… we should never judge others until we walk a mile in their shoes. We all know it but sometimes, we subliminally judge without even realizing it. Like a reaction to an itch, we quickly analyze and assess people who cross our path. The other day, as I went for my lunchtime walk, I had one of those moments.

I was patiently waiting for my turn to cross a normally busy intersection. I felt kind of funny just waiting because at that moment in time, the intersection was not busy. I really could have jaywalked across, but I didn’t. Instead, I chose to be a patient citizen and soaked in the wonderful afternoon sun. As I was waiting for my turn to cross, an older clean cut gentleman whizzed by me and crossed the intersection without a care in the world. He seemed to be a fit man and was dressed all in black. He was holding a man-purse kind of bag and seemed very hipster. I immediately went from enjoying the warm sun to thinking to myself “oh! look at that guy, what an impatient jerk! Can’t even wait his turn at the light. What’s his hurry?”. It was then that I briefly judged him as some kind of stuck up artist or musician not giving a shit about the rules. I completely judged this man on the spot, without a care in the world.

As I watched him disappear on the crowded sidewalk ahead, I drifted back into my audio book and didn’t think twice of the judgement I had just placed on this man. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I come across a “sidewalk closed” sign that was preventing pedestrians from crossing into an active construction zone. I began to scan my pathway to get around the construction and who should come into my vision? that older hipster gentleman that I had so carelessly judged only a few minutes ago. Here he was, taking his time and helping a blind man cross the street which was littered with gravel and other various hazards. The man I just judged as being an inconsiderate ass-hat was holding another man by the arm to slowly get him across to safety. Who is the ass-hat now? I felt horrible.

It is our instinct to size a stranger up. We need to satisfy our primal need of safety. It is why we are gifted with all of our senses. We rely on our eyes, nose, ears, mouth and fingers to assess all of the dangers of life, including new people who enter our lives. Is this person going to harm me? or help me? But when we go too far and apply stereotypes and assumptions, that is when things get dirty. We are allowing our minds to overreact and make the irrational, rational. I am a lucky soul to be blessed with perfect eye sight. But if I am using it to judge what I can’t see, instead of just accepting what I do see; then between me and the blind man that day who was helped by the older gentleman that I had earlier cast off as an ass-hat… Who really is the blind one?

5 thoughts on “Blinding Judgement

  1. Awesome post! I studied social psychology and learned a lot about social judgements (though I’ve forgotten it all now as it was years ago lol!) But what does stick in my mind is the term heuristic. A heuristic is a social psychological/mental shortcut, which is what allows us to make snap judgements of people. I’d we had to individually analyse every person we come across during the day, the long hand, detailed way, our brains would he mush and we simply wouldn’t have the time, so heuristics are like auto pilot for the brain. They conserve energy, but we CAN make mistakes with these shortcuts. Some heuristics will be accurate, and good time savers, but some judgements will be way off the mark. This is an interesting post. Like it. Don’t feel bad for making that assessment. We all do it. It’s what humans do. It is good to be mindful of our tendency though πŸ™‚

    1. I never knew there was an actual science behind it. I just figured it was a bad habit, but I guess the bad habit is to not be mindful of the judgement made and to remain open minded to change once the “shortcut” has been assessed. I learned something today. Thank you!

      1. There is a scientific social psychological reason behind pretty much every aspect of human behaviour 😊 Yes you can add another layer of processing-Think “that’s what my heuristic is telling me, but what alternatives are there?” You can’t not do the heuristic, but you can challenge them once they’ve come into your awareness πŸ˜‰

  2. Love this post Jeff! Love all your posts, but I have gotten behind. That too busy, rush, rush life you speak of:) It is so true about the immediate judgement thing, we all do it no matter how hard we try not to. It is always great to remind ourselves of it though. Happy New Year to you and your family!

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