It’s easier to judge a book by it’s cover.
It’s not right to judge someone or something merely by appearance. Just because the cover of a book is beautiful, it doesn’t mean that the content inside will be. An ordinary looking book though, may contain invaluable information, but we won’t know this, unless we read the entire book. To get to know someone properly, we have to do the same thing, often we don’t and I believe our lives are less meaningful because of it. This is partly because, we live in a world of many books and we don’t want to waste time reading crap. We put people and things into categories, as it’s a useful tool to make sense of our surroundings. This also reveals cognitive biases in the way we look at the world, this is not in tune with reality.
We make inferences all the time, as we compare and evaluate ourselves against the current social mores. I have often done this myself, even though I know at an intellectual level, I could be completely wrong. Couple this with compassion fatigue, as we become overwhelmed with social problems all around us. This leads to a mindset that creates a dangerous situation, which causes many problems in society.
It’s easy to judge people?
I’m on a rehabilitation program again, after the hernia repairs. I’m starting to walk around the local neighborhood, not too far from home in case I need rescuing. It’s the first time I have really walked around the local streets, I’m usually driving by on my way to the park, or further afield. So how do I amuse myself, that’s the question, this is Australia, so walking around the suburbs isn’t the national pastime, not with glorious beaches and beautiful parks everywhere. “Have you run out of petrol, is that why your walking, or have you broken down, do you need a lift?” “No! but thanks for asking,” your judgement was wrong this time, but I can see why you would think that.
How to judge your neighbors?
This is an older neighborhood built in the 70’s, a mixture of different styles. I’m going to make some value judgements, that house with the very formal garden, with well kept lawns and edges. Not sure of the peoples age who live there, they like gardening though, probably retired, and very fastidious. That one over there is very stark, concrete driveway and brick paving everywhere, hardly any lawn or garden. This one’s a bit tougher to guess, they don’t like gardening though, but it’s still very neat. The garage door is up, a caravan, motorbike, surfboards, a younger family live there, and they enjoy their leisure activities. Hence no time for gardening.
Look at the state of that house over there, long grass everywhere. I don’t think that boats been anywhere for years, its almost grown into the landscape. They don’t have any time for gardening either, but for different reasons than the young family over the road. Mind you, they could be renting, people renting don’t look after their houses properly, do they?
Driving home in the early hours of the morning after a social event. I went past the local take away food outlet, some of them are open 24hours. Those kids playing around in the carpark, they can’t be any older than my grandson. And I know, he’s tucked up in bed over in Melbourne, as he should be, at twelve years old. So what the hell are the parents of these kids up to, letting them roam the streets at this time of the night, surely it can’t be very safe for them. Their parents don’t care about them, that’s plainly obvious, in my judgement.
I mentioned this to my youngest son who turns 41 soon. “What’s happening to the younger generation nowadays running around the streets at all hours. We never let you do that, we were responsible parents, not like the parents of the kids I saw.” “Well I know the area your talking about, do you remember when you used to drop me off at my mates house. And then ring his parents to check how we were. We were fine, we used to climb out of the bedroom window when his parents were asleep and meet up with all our other mates, down the very area your talking about”.
The curious thing is, I don’t consider that I do judge a book by it’s cover, but in the day to day, I seem to be making judgements continuously. According to my understanding, fast judgements have helped us in the past. As we needed to assess risks very fast, in order to survive, so we evaluate all new things in the same manner now. I read somewhere, that we have two voices in our head, the judgmental and the empathetic. We simply allow these two “voices” to co-exist. Slowly, we will be able to experience both, our mind’s tendency to judge quickly and our mind’s ability to think more deeply
I often think more deeply, when I give myself the time and space to make a judgement properly. I’m making a judgement now that so many people are doing it tough in this world. Therefore I’m not helping by judging situations, that I know very little about. When we judge people in the moment, we often judge them harshly, “why can’t they do things according to our standards.” The undeniable truth is, we are all a heartbeat away from illness, tragedy and any number of events, that can change our lives instantly. So it’s best to keep it in mind, not to judge a book by it’s cover. Because, there but for the grace of God, go I.