Challenging society to stop our constant judgment of others

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

CORINA POWELL, Channels Staff

The other day in the women’s locker room at City College, I overheard someone say, “I’ve always wanted violet hair.” I didn’t think anything of it until she added, “but I’m worried that people would judge me.”

It made me sad to think that this person felt like she couldn’t express herself in the way that she wanted to just because of what other people might think.

Of course, it did not come as a surprise.

Like most people, I don’t want to admit that I am judgmental or that I fear being judged, yet I know I’m not alone in the game of comparing and contrasting.

I want to challenge us as a society to become more aware of how often we stereotype, classify and judge people we know nothing about.

It can be harmful to everyone involved.

While there is so much pain, suffering, and injustice going on in this world, many of us here spend too much time and energy making assessments about what others are wearing, listening to or who they’re hanging out with.

I definitely thought I would have grown out of this way of thinking by now, but as I get older I realize that there is no age limit to being judgmental. It is ingrained in people of all ages and even in some of the most intelligent minds I know.

And I think that the reason is pretty easy to trace.

I have found that my perception of other people is directly related to how I feel about myself.

The times when I’ve been most judgmental are when I’ve felt down on myself or somehow inadequate. It felt like my ego used judgment toward others as a defense mechanism.

“If other people are so defective then I can’t be so bad,” I would subconsciously tell myself.

The trouble is, the guilt of putting people down would make me feel worse about myself and a vicious cycle would start.

This makes perfect sense coming from someone who lives in a society that capitalizes on its people feeling inadequate.

The corporations that benefit from our insecurities give us an ever-changing ideal of what we are supposed to be like while putting us in competition against each other.

Just recognizing our culture’s influence on the way we view others and ourselves will not necessarily free us from being judgmental.

We have to do that ourselves, and being aware of how we’re being influenced gives us the ability to change the way we think.

If we actively keep our assumptions about people in check, while taking time to appreciate our own abilities and what we like about ourselves, then it will become easier to appreciate others and respect their differences.

Approaching people with curiosity rather than assumptions will give them a chance to be their authentic selves.

They’re probably more concerned with what you think about them than they are about judging you.

So let’s all go easy on each other.