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As someone raised in a small town where everybody knew everybody else’s business—but still bought the daily newspaper just to see if they’d been caught—my father gave me sound advice:
“We never truly know what it’s like to live behind closed doors in another’s romantic world. Nor should we.”
My wise pop possesses one of the most humbling qualities that I have encountered anywhere in the world. If I may age with even half of his simple, albeit sage insight about people and life, then how lucky am I?
Indeed, a powerful truism dwells within the reality that we have no idea, as human beings ensconced in our own journey and travels, about what may be somebody else’s daily hell—or heaven for that matter too. And it’s not our place to play God and judge.
We’ve all met the woman who lives, by all appearances, that lavish life of leisure. Yet when she garners up her courage to tell her “friends” about the secret pain she endures each day, (whether verbal and emotional abuse, too disgusting to repeat and print, or about a myriad of things which we may never ever understand since we’re not in it), there are many of us who will in turn judge, and mighty hard.
“Honey, you’re going home in a Porsche every night. Don’t f**k it up!”
Yes, it’s so easy for onlookers to chime in.
Perhaps, somebody lives with a closet drug addict. Maybe they are terrified to leave because of what people will say. Possibly, physical abuse took place. Hell, maybe a lot of guns are just laying around and the woman has endured too many late night drunken fights, threats to kill the dogs, and more—enough to test her chances of “running in the night.”
We all have our reasons. And those reasons are not for anyone else to speculate on. Even if a pal describes to us, in epic detail, about what he or she is dancing through, we are still not in a position to resonate with what their private dance is.
We’re not in their shoes after all.
A pillar of society in public can be a horrible partner to somebody else. (Just as a loving spouse can do some crooked things at work and the partner could be in the dark about such doings for decades.)
But there is one universal thread and truism here regardless of all circumstances and that being that we must not, cannot, and should not pretend that we are some higher entity who is entitled to judge, weigh in and advise another human being about their heart.
Sure, we can be there to hear them vent! And yes, we can absolutely care for anyone hurting, especially when it is somebody whom we genuinely admire and love.
But we’re not in it.
And whether it’s salacious gossip about celebrity breakups or affairs, or it hits much closer to home, it is clear that when we are happier and busier in our own lives, we don’t judge the romantic liaisons of others.
Conversely, we all know that when we linger too long at the grocery store, ogling the sensational “Fake News” magazines about famous folk doing things which they didn’t do, that we are damn f**king bored!
We are less happy on that particular week versus others, and when we get going, and get busy with something fabulous and creative, we will hardly have time to chime in and decide why “Brangelina” broke up. Nor do we have that particular right!
One important part, that I believe my dear father was trying to teach me early on, is that when we cast our judgment and critical and self-indulgent thinking toward others, and the very personal, and often painful and private practices some people keep, we thrust out a scary and dangerous karmic net.
Yes, make no mistake that what we judge, critique and cast our doubt about comes back. And whether we believe in the old “what goes around comes around” theory or not, when we judge, we send negative and angry energy into the air and there is a boomerang effect whether we believe in it or understand it or not.
Maybe our child gets sick. Our car breaks down. We get stood up.
When we “judge” another’s private life, we are being ridiculous and small-minded to believe that such shallow and misplaced energy does not in some way come back. Stronger and fiercer, our own thrusted “energy” is going to dictate what happens in our very lives.
And so we may as well make the energy good.
Instead of judgment, what we do have a right to contribute is simply our heart. “I’m sorry that you are going through this, and if you would like to visit, talk or simply hang out,” is really all we can do.
It is hardly our place to solve and decide which side we do not align ourselves with, nor should anybody be sentenced with that task. To let somebody know merely, “I love you, I’m sorry you’re going through this, and I am here,” is enough. A hug is the frosting. A meal shared, even better!
But let them live, grow, cry, re-groom their wings and take flight!
We haven’t the right nor place to advise, take sides, or in turn judge—as if we know all about what somebody else has lived—nor should we. That’s not why we were put here.
Or as a wise, kind man, whom I admire so greatly taught me, “You truly, have no idea.”
Author: Laurie-Beth Robbins
Image: Elvert Barnes/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman