We all do it. How can we avoid it? It's everywhere. We judge. We judge people on the way they look, on the way they act, on the clothes they wear, and even on the way they drive. I'm not perfect. I judge too. When, however, does a simple passing judgment turn into something mean and cruel? Where's the boundary?
I read a popular blog, and I probably shouldn't. The girl who writes it always leaves me incensed. Sometimes I'm upset because of how she views herself and how she thinks others view her. Other times, I just feel she's a b**** (See? I'm being judgmental!). Still, I continue to read.
Recently, she blogged about an experience she had, and, while her writing was quite good, there was one thing I couldn't get passed. Her descriptions of the people she interacted with were horrible. Those descriptions may have come from a genuine dislike of the people, but they were still awful. They made me feel sorry for the people she was describing, and they made me angry towards her. I took personal offense to the comments that were made, and I wanted to smack her. The question I had to ask my self was why. Why did her comments upset me so much? Well, aside from the general lack of respect towards humanity, I'm sure it had something to do with my own past.
When I was a pre-teen puberty hit me hard. My straight hair turned curly, my body developed a shape I certainly wasn't used to, I quit swimming, I developed acne, and I probably could have showered more than I did. I also started at a new school, a small private school. One would think that going to a smaller school would be easier, and in some ways it is, but it also limits the number of people who could potentially be your friend.
Middle school was hard. I started out OK, but for some reason lost it somewhere in there. Kids made fun of my acne, and tormented me for dandruff (which I still have no recollection of ever actually having). That was bad enough, but what was worse was simply being ignored. I was shunned from any social activities. At my small school, we still had recess and I was simply barred from any of the games. I'm still angry at the teachers who wouldn't allow you to read during recess. Boys that I had crushes on would call to ask me out as a prank. Apparently it was hilarious to them that I actually liked someone. When I caught on, I learned to hang up, but it didn't stop them from laughing. They simply made up my answers. My mom tried to help by talking to the principal and to teachers who in turn talked to my class, but you can only imagine the damage that caused. For three years I was in Hell.
By the time high school started I had learned to lay low and avoid anything that could turn into a painful situation. Girls at my high school were kinder, but I never truly found my place (other than being the teacher's pet). I feared what people said about me behind my back, and I found myself on the offensive, trying to make that preemptive strike before I could get hurt. I hid who I was and who I had been from everyone. Even in college, I tried to keep things secret. I still remember crying as I showed Hans a picture of myself from eighth grade. He won me over by not laughing and by telling me I was beautiful.
Looking back now, I have no fondness for those days. The only good thing that really came from it is that I found my solace in my dogs. Had it not been for them, I would have been much lonelier, and I certainly would not be where I am today. Anyway, I have to wonder why children treat each other so.
Some of it is simply because children are mean. They have to establish an order, and someone has to be on the bottom. However, they learn these behaviors too. They see these behaviors on TV and in their families, in books and on blogs. As a society, we are taught that different is bad, that if someone doesn't match your way of thinking then they're wrong. I was different. I was socially awkward and having trouble coping with some big changes in my life, and the other children saw that and attacked.
The only way to change this is to change the way we act ourselves. If we, as a society, are more accepting of others then so will our children be. Acceptance is not something you can teach, but rather something you can show. Telling your children how to behave is not the same as showing them. The blog I read angered me because it did not teach a healthy way of living. Sure, it may be how she felt, but why did she have to spread that? So many people laughed at the poor women she described. How can mocking someone be funny? How can teasing someone, no matter what their flaws, be hilarious?
As I grow older I am finding that I am much more accepting of who I am, and in accepting myself I can accept others as well. I pray for my children that they may live a life without ridicule, and that they may spare some poor child as well. Instead of spreading this disease that most call "society's norm" I hope we can instead learn that the "norm" is to be different...very, very different. Instead of teasing or mocking or ridiculing we can embrace, or at the very least simply avoid.
I don't expect everyone to get along all the time. There are plenty of people I don't like, and I wouldn't want to be forced to be with them. However, I encourage everyone to take some time before judging. Get to know the person you are looking at. If you don't like them, fine, but make sure it's for the right reasons and not simply because they're different or "odd." Get to know someone, and love them for who they are.