SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2010
Have you noticed how people avoid sharing their intimate secrets with you? Doesnt it bother you and indeed, hurt you, to find out that your partner or child or even best friend did not confide in you? Having enjoyed the deepest and richest of those relationships with you they chose to keep their moments of truth away from you! Why then, you wonder in agony, did they chose to ignore you and hide those most personal of experiences from you?
The answer is not obvious. And yet it lies in that most wonderful and timeless lesson Jesus taught us aeons ago. "Judge ye not" he cautioned, and then followed up with the admonition "for who are ye to judge?" Don't be holier than thou because you come fully loaded with all the faults yourself. How can you then point the finger at someone else? Arent you taking on the position that Transactional Analysis categorizes as "I'm ok, your not ok"?. Iron out the blemishes in yourself before you chastise or blame someone else. As Gandhiji showed, demonstrate with your own personal thought, word and deed what change is all about. And even then you dont have the right to paint someone else black!
Jesus goes much further than that, of course. "Let him cast the first stone who has not sinned" he says pungently! If you are going to stone a sinner, pay heed! Have you sinned yourself, and who hasnt, by the way? If you've committed any trespasses, be warned, says Jesus, you've forfeited the right to label anyone else a sinner. How many us can claim a record as pure as the driven snow? You can say, "to err is human", that everyone makes mistakes and is imperfect and that being human is by definition a search for perfection. That is exactly why we cannot tar someone else for making a mistake or committing a "sin".
A lot of the time we unconsciously put a distance from a person who looks different or subscribes to a different lifestyle or value system from us. That someone somehow looks or feels "bad" or "sinful". We take stereotypical positions about an entire race or denomination or community. And so the difference grows and misunderstandings are embellished into myths and assumptions. Walls are reinforced and communication evaporates. A lack of understanding curdles into dislike and hatred. Just because other people are different! Just because we have passed judgement on others!
The minute we pass judgment two things happen.
One, we somehow lower the other person in our esteem and begin to mistrust him. Our relationship with him changes forever. The same level of closeness or intimacy can never be regained. Our behaviour towards him changes subtly at first but far more noticeably in a short time. Second, the other person senses the change immediately and hurts immeasurably. Very often he'll hit back. And then he too begins to adjust his behaviour. The death knell of the relationship has well and truly been sounded!
So, why don't people share personal experiences sometimes? The answer is a pathological fear of being judged. They dont have the confidence that you'd understand without judgment. Somehow they feel that you'll label them as "bad" and not love them anymore. That you'll think less of them. That you'll stop trusting them. That you'll put a distance with them. That they'll lose you. They simply cant take all these huge risks! So, they'll play safe and simply not confide in you.
The onus is really on you! You are the one who has not instilled in them the confidence that you'll be with them and for them no matter what. Its your behaviour and your words that have prevented from enjoying that comfort and safety of complete acceptance. The shoe is really on your foot. Its up to you to demonstrate a loving acceptance of all the vagaries or eccentricities of those close to you! You don't have to agree with all they say or do but you certainly can refrain from judging them in any way.
Isn't that better than being hurt when they dont share the most intimate aspects of their life with you? Isn't it far more enriching to transcend judgment of others all the time?