Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lessons From A Stranger - Incomplete Judgment

I know it's a cop out, but Mariam and I have had trouble coordinating trips to interview people. In the meantime, I'd like to share some more musings on meeting strangers. 
Public transportation is notorious for it's surprises. As the train pulls up to the station, the windows reveal a glimpse of the adventures that lie in wait for your ride. You may run into a car of frumpy commuters, a group of bright-eyed kids on a travel abroad trip, a half-asleep hobo, and everything in between. Sitting on the train that cuts straight across the city, you can't help but see people who live lives that as polar opposites of yours. Things that you may think you have in common can be regarded so differently compared to how you hold it. 
I realized that most people have trouble accepting themselves. Aside from being okay with your own identity, people even have trouble defining themselves. While you're riding the train, you can see people who look like they've been awake for 3 days besides people who look like they stepped out of a glossy magazine ad. You can't help but judge, even though you only can see the tiniest slice of a particular person's life. Inevitably, when you judge, you're comparing those people against some reflection of personal values and indirectly even yourself. 
How do you define yourself when you're comparing the highlights of everyone's lives to your lowest points. That's just irrational. If you're going to compare, match up highlights to highlights, and bloopers to bloopers. Even then, I believe, you're not competing in life. It's not a race. When you think of people as complete humans rather than standards to compare yourself to, it becomes natural that you help people and you get helped. You become the best "you" that you can be, and help the people around you become better.
What do you think? Have you ever judged someone from a tiny glimpse only to realize that you're missing the big picture and completely misjudged them? 

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