Is it judgment or is it discernment? Why judging can save us.
Never let your desire to have an accepting heart towards others keep you from your strong boundaries. The hurricane may come blasting at our door; yet it doesn’t mean we have to invite it in for tea. Sometimes, it’s important to recognize that the hurricane is a powerful and damaging storm, not a light spring shower.
Alaric Hutchinson, Living Peace
I am here to confess — I am judgmental. Oh yes, I really am. I judge everybody about all sorts of things, some reasonable and some that are pretty shameful (I’m trying to get over those, but it is a work in progress). It makes sense that I judge. I was raised by two of the most judgmental people ever and my brother was way worse than I am. Appearance, background, education, accent, profession — if my family could judge you for it, trust me, they would, and most unkindly.
One of my father’s worst insults was to call someone a farmer. Really? Really?????
It was mortifying — and like a lot of pernicious family traits, I do it, too and feel awful about it. So in response to my internal chiding, I tried to be more open. More accepting. More relaxed. More trusting even. I wasn’t very good at it, but I tried. It seemed so important.
If you refuse to see a truth, if you’re very, very fortunate, your dreams will whisper it to you even as your waking mind tries (and usually fails) to bludgeon you with it.
In my dream, I was at the beautiful old park in the center of town. Huge maple trees frame the grassy center, which is also graced with a gazebo. It’s a safe place for the homeless, now, which makes it an uncomfortable place for a lot of other people, but my dream had me back in the day when kids used to run around, climbing on the trees, and there was music played in the gazebo to the delight of all.
There was a circus there, mostly comprised of clowns. There had to be dozens of them — tall, short, fat, thin — in every kind of costume imaginable. I stared at this milling, colorful crowd, a feeling of disgust and even horror washing over me.
But no, I was trying to open my heart. I was trying to release my judgments. I didn’t know these people. I didn’t know their hearts. I couldn’t assume they were as evil as my heart and mind and feet-that-wanted-to-flee were telling me. Besides, other people were there, milling about, laughing at the clowns’ antics.
I walked into the crowd, smiling at the clowns who brushed past me.
It was the tiniest of the clowns who came toward me. He was no bigger than a child, even though it was clear that the person in the suit was a grown man. He opened his arms as he approached me, his painted smile so jolly that I failed to look past the paint to the person behind it.
I opened my arms in response and drew him in, hugging him like the near-child he appeared to be. For a moment, I basked, feeling relief that I had overcome my critical nature to accept someone whose appearance repelled me profoundly.
And then I felt it. The little shite was humping my leg. He was rubbing his stubby little erection against me. He was masturbating.
I shoved him away with a roar that awoke me, shuddering, horrified, disgusted.
I remember sitting up in bed feeling sick, the dream still vivid, knowing immediately what it was trying to tell me. Not all judgment is bad. Sometimes it’s a warning.
Some people, some places and things are toxic. Sometimes they wear a pleasing countenance, but other times, what you feel bad about when you’re repulsed by it has good reason. It’s like a rattle on a snake. Life will teach you the signals and you will do well to pay attention to them. Sometimes it’s harmless but sometimes it’s not.
In fact, it’s basically about following your gut and your heart, which is the advice I give new parents on a regular basis. If your heart and gut are shouting at you — listen to them!
Right now, my heart and gut are telling me that Donald Trump is the worst idea this country has had for a very, very long time. In our family, we call this “pinging,” like what sonar does. My instincts send signals that bounce back and say “DANGER!!!”
What’s telling me this? Aside from the fact he can’t string together a single coherent thought, apart from his upcoming civil trial for raping a child, his upcoming trial for the travesty that is “Trump University” and everything else he does (or does not) stand for — what has my instincts in such a stew is what he’s bring out in us.
The unabashed racism. The vile misogyny. The threats from his followers toward Hillary Clinton. The shameful xenophobia. He has people crawling out from their rotten logs where the approbation of the rest of us had forced them. They’re out now, swarming like so many noisome maggots feeding on the festering wound of hate, and I’m not so sure that, when this is all over, it will be any too easy to put them back.
So do please listen to your judgment. Sometimes it might be something ugly you were trained to feel and you need to work on it. But sometimes, it’s discernment, and it’s there to help.
Listen to it.