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I will leave his exact name out of this article and focus on the lessons we can all learn from this downfall.
I first saw this man on a news program, and because of his magnetism and star qualities, he was frequently asked back to espouse his enthusiastic opinions on truth, politics, and morality. He spoke with confidence, poise, and verbal acuity, and it seemed as if he could win an award for the most ethical lawyer of all time.
Where is he now? In jail. But enough about him. His problems will be his life lessons.
We have our own life lessons to learn.
The familiar saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” is one of my favorites. Sadly, we often do judge people as good or bad, based on the color of their skin, number of tattoos, religion, sexual orientation, political beliefs, ethnicity, gender, physical attributes, disabilities, economic status, age, level of education, or where they live.
Our list of irrational prejudices and biases are infinite.
Although I have a busy judge and jury going on in my head too, the better side of me prefers not to judge anyone by their “cover or their book.” Everyone has a life story that I might gain personal insight from—especially if it is different from mine. I might learn something about myself by listening to a new point of view or by understanding a person’s history, dreams, and goals. My ability to be empathic and more compassionate might expand by taking the time to absorb how another human being overcame their personal life challenges.
Giving people second chances and trusting the mystical magic of the universe are my preferences in how I run my life, but discernment, reality, practicality, and caution are additional ingredients in determining which situations and people could be toxic and which situations and people could be elevating.
Just because people look good, dress well, speak confidently, emote strength and intelligence, and everyone thinks they are the greatest thing since spaghetti and vegan meatballs, doesn’t mean that we should assume anything about them. Good, bad, or in-between. Everyone wears an unseen mask, and we can’t judge anyone by what we see and hear on the surface.
That said, here are examples of my own inner judge at work.
One of my personal red flags is when I hear someone say, “I was the first one to know this.”
My inner voice says, “Wow, what an ego. I’m staying away. Something doesn’t seem right. Why does he/she/they keep saying that? They must be deeply insecure.”
Truth? Who knows? Maybe their ego is overinflated, or maybe they were the first person who knew this information. Why do I judge them based on their words, gestures, and tone of voice? Is my high intuition at work, or am I entertaining unfair judgments? I’m not sure.
Another red flag phrase is “to be honest with you.”
My inner judge thinks, “Why do they have the need to say that phrase if they are already honest?”
Something smells like rotten fish to me when someone says, “trust me.”
These two words are more than a red flag for me. I am not sure I could trust anyone who says, “trust me.”
Since I think it’s time to reign in my judge and jury, I take that back. Come to think of it, I have trusted people who said, “trust me” and “to be honest with you,” and we experienced no problems at all. They were honest and they could be trusted.
My unfair judgments stem from defensiveness, fears, insecurities, past experiences, and groundless stories spinning around in my head. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” “to be honest with you,” and “trust me” are three powerful phrases with the potential for neutral, positive, or negative high impact life lessons.
The challenge is to remain mindful, cautious, awake, alert, open, loving, curious, forgiving, nonjudgmental, and compassionate all at the same time.
Let’s get back to this high-profile person who is in trouble with the law. Before we judge his “book by its cover,” let’s ask ourselves:
What part of this person is me?
If someone dropped a bag that had $50,000 in it and we were hurting for money, or even if we weren’t hurting for money, would we have a quick thought in our mind of wanting to keep the money?
If we owed a huge amount of money and we were in deep trouble, what would we do if this “Manna from Heaven” fell into our lap? Think of it as destiny? Fate? Our rightful due? Would our moral compass take over? Would our goodness and sense of justice and fairness be our driving force to give back all the money? Would we go to the police station and return the money immediately, or would we sit on a park bench for a while and ponder the decision?
Depending on what life is like for us now, how stable we are, the amount of money we have or don’t have, how happy, at peace, or abused we are feeling, all decisions and Karma will unfold accordingly.
If we make a mindful choice to suspend judgment toward this convicted ex-lawyer and human being sitting behind bars right now, we might become more forgiving of our own mistakes and the mistakes others have made toward us. Instead of being his judge and jury, let’s call upon the qualities of curiosity and compassion.
This brings me to the question, why do we sabotage ourselves at times?
Was this man a generous and loving person at one point in his life? What happened to throw him off his positive path and change his moral compass? Was he unable to discern right from wrong, or is there more to his story?
There is always more to the story. For him, for us, for anyone. Let’s strive to be compassionate with both the person in trouble, with each other, and with ourselves. We are them and they are us—and there is a fine line in-between.
We are constantly learning life lessons. Most human beings are good even if they have chosen paths that are not serving them or the world in a healthy and loving way.
We were all born innocent, and everyone has a pure child’s heart somewhere within them.