As humans, we have a long history of using sensory cues for important information. Before we had the ability to light our way in the darkness, we only strayed from home in the daylight hours. We needed to be able to see what was in our path, whether it might be something good or bad. It could have been a tasty plant or some other food source, or it might have been a creature that had claws and teeth and four legs on which it could run quickly to hunt us down. We used our senses to protect us and prolong our lives. We also used, and still do, visual and other cues to understand the people around us. Someone might not tell us that they are unhappy or unwell, but our eyes and ears could tell us a different story. We might see the wince of pain on someone's face, or the unshed tears in their eyes, or hear the foggy sound of congested lungs.
We still use our senses every day to gather information and understanding of others. I sometimes wonder whether these tools of our senses have turned in our hands like a knife that slips out of someone's grip and ends up deeply cutting their hand. Everyone who is able to see processes the information in their own manner, of course. I think, though, that whether or not we admit it, we all judge others in many ways. Whether or not those judgements are fair is what spurred me to write this post.
Note: my grammar-and-spelling tool is already passing judgement on me. It does not seem to realize that judgement and judgment are both accepted spelling variations. I choose to spell it as judgement because it looks right to me. What can I say? To me, the other version is less esthetically pleasing. If that makes me shallow, so be it. Of course, I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Okay, back to the subject at hand. I think we often forget that there is more to many situations than meets the eye. I read an article yesterday about someone who parked in a handicapped space while displaying his handicapped parking permit. He has no visible handicaps, and when he came out of the store there was a particularly nasty note left on his car stating that his only handicap was his mental ability. There are many handicaps that are not visible to others. This gentleman is considered legally blind. No, he doesn't have a limp or use a wheelchair, but he has a challenge nonetheless. Trent and I have gotten the stink eye, as I like to call it, for the same reasons. After years of medications that keep his body from killing his transplanted kidneys, he has arthritis in his spine and pain and difficulty with walking. No, he isn't in a wheelchair, but his pain is still a challenge. As someone who also deals with chronic pain, I understand how that feels.
The judgements people make seem to be more frequent and unkind than ever before. If someone is overweight, they are labeled as a fat, lazy, person who has no self-control. If they are thin, they are anorexic or bulimic and need to eat a sandwich. If they're athletic, they must be brainless, and if they are smart, they must be weak. The list goes on. I've been wanting to write about this, but the article I mentioned was one of the catalysts to me writing this tonight. The other was another news story, this time from a local news affiliate.
I have chosen to get updates from this local television news station in one of my social media news feeds. It gives me an opportunity to catch some important stories and some lighthearted ones, as well. The other day, there was a story about a woman from Colorado who was a murder victim. Caution: this is a very unpleasant story. The facts, in a nutshell:
-Ms. Brooks has a husband in Fort Morgan, Colorado.
-She flew to Florida to meet with an ex-boyfriend, Mr. Pope. He picked her up at the airport early Sunday morning.
-Ms. Brooks' body was found in a waterway Monday afternoon. She died of wounds to her head after being bludgeoned with a rock.
-Mr. Pope, the suspect, committed suicide on Tuesday. Evidence found at the home indicated that Ms. Brooks was killed there and then dumped in the waterway.
It's a terribly sad story. What made me even sadder was some of the comments that were made by readers. Someone named Stephanie said that she shouldn't have attempted to cheat on her husband. Josie said, "Grass isn't always greener on the other side. Now she's six feet under it." People were glibly stating that it was her fault and that she deserved to be bludgeoned to death because she went to meet this man. I am glad to say that there were many voices of reason that stated what I thought was obvious. We know nothing about her situation. She may have been miserable and on the brink of divorce. She may have simply been going to visit an old friend who also happened to be an old flame. Yes, she hugged and kissed him at the airport, and they walked out holding hands. There are also many people who act that way with friends as opposed to just with lovers. And even if she went for romantic reasons, why would anyone say that she should be bludgeoned to death because of it? As someone who has seen the victim of a bludgeoning very close up, I can tell you that this woman did not "deserve it."
How can we set ourselves up high as judge and jury for circumstances that we don't understand and people that we don't know? Do we really think that we are so much better than everyone else around us? I have to wonder what these people would think if the victim was their daughter or friend or sister. Or themselves. Perhaps we need to take a deeper look at ourselves and try to regain our humane and truly human core. There are many among us with problems, and most of them are not visible to others' eyes. Someone may be overweight because of a medical condition. Or, like someone I used to know, they may have shielded their body with extra weight after being the victim of a date-rape. That thin person might be anorexic, but they might also have a glandular imbalance. The truth of the matter is that we don't know much about someone based on what our eyes see. Maybe we need to stop our judgements so that we can know them with our hearts.