“That mess about judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin—that’s some bullshit. Nobody has the right to judge anybody else. Period. If you ain’t been in my skin, you ain’t never gonna understand my character.”
― Emily Raboteau, The Professor’s Daughter: A Novel
Such a powerful quote, I almost don’t have to write another word. Judgment is human nature; we all do it. We see a “friend” who looks great and we think to ourselves, “I wonder if she had Botox?” or “How much did he pay for that car?” And, the biggest one of all is, “I wonder what he/she did to end their marriage?” Here’s the truth, you can’t get to the best part of the book, unless you read the pages.
I don’t know about you, but when the gossip mill has churned up a couple that whose marriage has hit the rocks, I’m often surprised. Why? The cover of that book looks perfect with the hero and heroine, who are wrapped in each others arms lovingly, staring into each other’s eyes with the wind whipping through their hair ready to take on the world. I have never read the book, in other words, had a meaningful conversation with either the husband or the wife, so had no idea what the inside of their lives even looked like.
The Commodity of Time
Here’s the problem though, how can you read the pages when you don’t have the time to sit down with the book? We live in a world where time is money and we don’t seem to have the time to sit down and make those meaningful connections. I’m not saying we never do, but it doesn’t happen nearly enough. It’s easy enough to ask someone how they are doing, and they answer fine, but what about digging deeper than that, finding out what’s really going on inside the chapters of their lives and caring about it?
If we took as much time to get to know people as we did to judge them imagine how many more people we would be tolerant of. Think about that for a minute. I don’t know about you, but I think it would be an amazing number of people. When I tell people that I am on my third marriage, they automatically get this look on their face that is a mixture of disgust, awe, concern and fear and my automatic response is one of sarcasm by saying that my goal is to have an entire wall devoted to wedding portraits of me. Those that haven’t read my book think I am serious.
Reserving judgment is not an easy task because it is learned, but it can be unlearned, and the way to unlearn it is to read the pages of people’s books. Find out who people are on the inside and don’t judge them by their outside appearance. Find out about people’s lives, their hopes and dreams, triumphs and sorrows, what makes them happy and sad and content and scared. Take the time to get to know people and take a walk in their shoes from time to time to get a taste of what their lives are like.
And, while you are walking in their shoes, let them borrow yours and let them walk in yours for a while and read your book. Make that connection and allow them into your life. As the quote says, understand their character and let them understand yours, imagine the lifelong friends and feelings you can develop along the way from this, it can change your life, one page at a time.