I had an unpleasant experience at ball the other night (I play slo-pitch) and it got me thinking about passing judgement. I was up to bat and I hit a liner into center field. As I headed to first base, I wasn’t running full speed (I hurt my knee training for my upcoming run and I wasn’t about to make it any worse last night) but I wasn’t dilly-dallying, either. The next thing I knew, the man playing center field for the other team attempted (unsuccessfully) to throw me out.
I was upset – mostly because I’ve seen people get hit with throws like these and it does not end well, but also because I think that recreational slo-pitch is just that; recreational. If you want to be ultra-competitive, go play in the big leagues. At any rate, an inning later, I became even angrier with the situation when I heard the fellow chatting with his teammates – “I only tried to throw her out because she wasn’t even trying to run to first base”.
WOAH. Last I checked, this man didn’t know anything about me, my physical condition, or my running speed and/or capability. He certainly was in no position to pass judgement on why I wasn’t running as fast as he deemed acceptable.
A day later, this experience got me thinking about how quick we all can be to pass judgement on those around us, without any knowledge about them, and in far more important and hurtful situations. Although there are countless instances of this, the one that springs immediately to mind is how quick we can be to judge the homeless. Many people assume them to be drug addicts or drunks who just can’t get it together. But in some instances, this isn’t true. In some instances, the people who frequent homeless shelters have jobs, but the pay is not enough for them to live the lives that most of us consider ‘normal’. In other instances, these people used to be gainfully employed and enjoyed a so-called ‘normal’ life, but they have since lost their jobs and are now doing what they can just to find a warm bed to sleep in at night. Imagine how it would feel to be in this situation, and to know that people are walking around condemning you when you are doing the best you can? The last thing these people need is the burden of additional and unwarranted judgement.
I am reminded of the quote from Atticus Finch, in To Kill A Mockingbird – “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This is one of life’s little truths that we would all do well to remember. Whether we are on a ball diamond, walking around downtown, or just noticing people in any everyday situation, we should all stop to think before passing judgement on someone else’s life.