JUDGE, JURY … AND JERK!
My son and I went to get haircuts this week. (Here’s where I have to admit that we don’t have appointed haircutters. We go wherever I have a coupon. I’m a fan of the $10 haircut. :-))
So, we walked in… And it happened… Immediately.
One of the stylists working that day was…shall we say…”unique.” She had tattoos and piercings everywhere, multi-colored hair that was partially covered by a somewhat trendy fedora-style hat (that she had presumably gotten at a thrift store), and was sloppily dressed at best (presumably from the same thrift store). And my immediate thought was, “Oh my! I hope she doesn’t cut my hair. No telling what I’ll look like when she gets through with me.” Now I confess, this was totally wrong thinking on my part. (It actually shocked me because I’m not typically this kind of person, but for whatever reason I was that day.) I quickly assumed the role of judge and jury, convicting this young 20-something of “bad haircutter schlub in the 1st degree.” I repeated this thought in my mind over and over again. Then I observed her cutting a little 4-year-old girl’s hair. She was sweet. She was kind. She was actually good at what she did. I was then convicted (in my own mind) of being “judge, jury, and jerk in the 1st degree.” Ugh!
Why do we judge? Why do we cast judgment on other people, convicting them in the first moments we see or meet them?
- We judge because others don’t quite “align” with our set of beliefs, standards, paradigms, etc. It happens in all kinds of ways. They dress differently, have a different political affiliation or sexual orientation, live in different parts of town, go to a different church (or don’t attend at all), etc. And when people are “different,” we grab the gavel, hop on the bench, and start handing out sentences left and right.
- We judge because it makes us feel better about ourselves. When we quickly point out the faults in others, our own faults and weaknesses become less prevalent. If we bring to light the shortcomings of others, it certainly keeps our own shortcomings in the dark…which is exactly where we want them kept.
- We judge because we don’t have enough information or simply don’t understand. We often observe a situation, quickly assess it, and prematurely come to an incorrect conclusion about the people involved. We don’t know their backstory. We likely don’t know the context of the situation. We don’t even give people a chance to explain or defend themselves.
- We judge because it’s popular. This is sad, but true. Kids and adults do it alike. Put-downs and criticisms run rampant. Everybody does it. It gets attention. It generates momentum in conversation. Think about it. The last time you were around someone who acted as judge and jury, how many other people chimed in?
Here’s the thing…we act as judge and jury so frequently, we’re oblivious. We no longer recognize it as such. It’s when we become so desensitized to the feelings, character, conscience, or reputation of others that we truly move from judge and jury status to jerk status.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” There’s the word we need to hear. GRACE! In the midst of our judge and jury rants, we not only must recall that word, we must apply it. GRACE! It’s what everybody is entitled to.
What other ways do we judge people unlike ourselves? Please feel free to share your thoughts…