32) Legal Beagles

English: Public court room in Independence Hall

We all think we are right!  It’s so true. We all think we are right because we see everything from our perspective.  It is how we are.  We often find great difficulty in looking at a situation from someone elses point of view.  It is very challenging to try to put yourself in someone elses shoes, to look at the world the way they see it. I feel it is impossible, even no matter how hard we try, to truly appreciate what someone is going through, to actually feel their joy, their pain, their concerns. And yet, even though we can never completely understand what it is  like to be someone else, we somehow feel we have the right to judge them.

Many of us make judgements about people’s physical appearance.  We make comments about their  choice of clothes, hairstyle, weight etc.   Even if we don’t verbalise what we are thinking, most of us do still think it.  How many times have you seen someone and within a millisecond a thought rushes through your head about how that person looks?  It is a habit that is so easy to get into. Even worse we think we know how to dress them better than themselves!  How can we always be so sure?  I might never ever in a million years wear a pink leather mini-skirt with high heels and wear bright red lipstick – but who says that I am right?  My choice in clothes most probably looks as dull as dishwater to someone else.

Have you met a friend’s partner and immediately made a snap judgement about them?  Just a look, just one word, or the way they dress can be enough for your brain to warp into judgement mode.  Even the way someone speaks, their accent,  can lead us to make sweeping judgements that could be totally wrong!

Our magazines and newspapers are full of judgements about people in the public eye.  Reporters judge everything about people: their lives, their love lives,  finances, children,  homes, even their political views.  Unfortunately it is rarely objective, and usually biased to entice more readers to read all the latest gossip, no matter if the ‘victim’ is a pop singer, a politician or a member of the royal family.  All appear to be fair game.  Even countries are attacked in the press, their cultures, their traditions, their politics.  It is felt that we are able to judge anyone/any country  who/that does not do as we think they should, who does not comply with what we consider is normal or correct.

I enjoy listening to lively debates on the radio and it surprises me how often I change my mind as I carry on listening to different views.  To begin with I am sure that Mr ‘A’ is making perfect sense, then Mr ‘B’ will chip in with his remarks and I start thinking, well, actually that really does make sense, then listening to Mr ‘A’ respond, I am once again seeing and appreciating his point of view.  From listening to so many over the years I have come to the conclusion that it is very difficult to tell the right viewpoint from the wrong one.  Even to the point where I wonder at times if there always is a right or a wrong one! It all depends from which angle you are looking at it.  As an onlooker it can be almost impossible to make a decision of who is right, but if you are personally involved then it becomes even more difficult to be objective.

My husband had to complete jury service recently.  Although he couldn’t discuss the case with me, I knew he was finding it very difficult to make a judgement about the ‘accused’.  Some days he would come home and feel he had totally understood what had happened and would appear relaxed. On other days he would come home obviously agitated after further evidence had been submitted into court which threw a spanner in the works, and suddenly the case didn’t appear as black and white as it had a couple of days before.  In the final days of the trial it was evident that Simon was really struggling.  He is a fair-minded man and was so concerned that he would come to the wrong conclusion, that because of his judgement an innocent man may spend time in prison.  Then he would be worried that if he judged the man innocent, and he was actually guilty, that he would be walking free in society, and what could be the possible consequences of that.    After much debate the jury found the accused guilty and Simon said he was so pleased when his previous convictions were read out and he had carried out similar crimes several times before.  He felt that they had come to the right decision.  His relief when it was all over was amazing.  The experience had really brought home the massive responsibility that there is in making judgements. Goodness knows how I’d ever cope if I had to sit on a jury!!

I do wonder what makes someone decide to commit a crime.  I have no idea of the mindset or thought process that you would go through to plan to take part in something criminal.  I avoid arguments and conflict as much as possible but it has crossed my mind whether someone decides to be abusive to someone else, either physically or verbally, or if it just happens, almost beyond their  control.  I do however know that I am extremely fortunate that I am not them, but somehow I used to think I had the right to judge them, not that I would normally tell others what I was thinking, but in my head I would be making judgements.  What right did I possibly have to do that?

I was sitting quietly one day, thinking about what is right and what is wrong, when I received the following words from one of my writing guides.

Look kindly on your fellow-man

Do not judge too harshly

For where he walks you too may tread

And understand his pathway

Just a few lines, but I feel it is a such powerful  message.  I have  had these words run through my mind so many many times over the years.  When I catch myself making a judgement about someone, suddenly I’ll hear the words “Look kindly on your fellow-man, do not judge too harshly ….” I immediately try to consider where that person is in their life and always ask myself “Who am I to judge?”  I cannot possibly imagine what made them make their choices about their lifestyle, their behaviour.  I have not shared in their life and come to their conclusions. I try to accept others as they are, accept they have their own opinions and have their own roads to follow.

Of course I’m not talking about our formal legal systems, these have to be in place, and we accept that our society chooses people to make legal judgements.  That is totally different to the judgements we all make that I am talking about here.

It  also made me think about the soul choices we make we enter this incarnation.  We can’t all choose to be kind and thoughtful or we would not be able to learn what is right and what is wrong, how to behave with care and generosity towards others.  How tough it must be to live your life as one of those people who are always on the wrong side of our man-made laws. How tough to wake up in the morning and know in your heart that you have been cruel or mean.  We can’t all be the same, we are all unique in almost every way and I say thank goodness for that.  In our diversity we have literally hundreds of thousands of choices throughout our lives, and who should ever judge us for them?  Only ourselves.  My guides know that we are not saints, that we have our human foibles, that we will most likely always make judgements, I feel it is a rare person who never does.  But, if you do find yourself judging, please just think of the words I received, and try not to be too harsh!

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