By Henrylito D. Tacio
If you were asked to be one of the judges of the two tough questions below, what would be your answer?
The first question goes this way: “If you knew a woman who was pregnant, had 8 kids already (three of who were deaf, two were blind, and one mentally retarded), and she had syphilis, would you recommend that she undergo an abortion?”
While thinking what your answer would be, here’s the second tickler: It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts. There are three candidates and here the straight facts about each. The first candidate associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologist. He’s had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.
The second candidate was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in
college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening. The third and last candidate is a decorated war hero. He’s a vegetarian, doesn’t smoke, drinks an occasional beer and never cheated on his wife. So, the big question is: “Which of these candidates would be your choice?”
Don’t cheat; write your answer before knowing who those three candidates are. If you have already written your answer, here’s what you need to know: The first candidate is American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The second is British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. And the third is no other than German dictator Adolph Hitler.
And, by the way, on your answer to the abortion question: If you said “yes,” you just killed Ludwig van Beethoven.
Tricky, isn’t it? The Bible states, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2).
But humans as we are, we judge others. And, oftentimes, our judgment is based on our emotion and not facts. “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing; others judge us by what we have done,” said Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
A tale in German song told of a contest between a nightingale and a cuckoo, to prove which sang more beautifully. As it happened, the only creature around to judge was a donkey.
The nightingale sang first. As its beautiful melody trilled through the woods, the donkey twitched its long ears and looked on with a stupid, puzzled expression.
Then the cuckoo called its simple, two-note song. Suddenly, the face of the donkey registered a serious, appraising look, and then he began to nod. This he could understand. After all, “cuckoo, cuckoo” isn’t really all that far from “hee-haw, hee-haw.”
It comes as no surprise that the donkey judged the cuckoo to be the better singer. Like donkey, that’s how people also judge. “We all judge according to our own limited perceptions, our biases, our varying degrees of ignorance,” someone once said.
Seneca pointed this out, too: “A man who examines the saddle and bridle and not the animal itself when he is out to buy a horse is a fool; similarly, only an absolute fool values a man according to his clothes, or according to his position, which after all is only something we wear like clothing.”
Don’t be swift in judging others. Listen to the story of this person: “While on a walk one day, I was surprised to see a man hoeing his garden while sitting in a chair. ‘What laziness!’ I thought. But suddenly I saw, leaning against his chair, a pair of crutches. The man was at work despite his handicap.”
Here’s what he said based on that experience: “The lesson I learned about snap judgments that day has stayed with me for years now: the crosses people bear are seldom in plain sight.” How true, indeed!
Next time, you see another person different from you, be considerate. William George Jordan urges, “We know nothing of the trials, sorrows and temptations of those around us, of pillows wet with sobs, of the life-tragedy that may be hidden behind a smile, of the secret cares, struggles, and worries that shorten life and leave their mark in hair prematurely whitened, and a character changed and almost recreated in a few days. Let us not dare to add to the burden of another the pain of our judgment.”
Never judge or you may judge yourself. The famous French author Honore de Balzac used to busy himself in his spare time analyzing handwriting as an index of a person’s character. He liked to consider himself a master in that art.
One day, an old lady brought him a little boy’s homework notebook and asked Balzac to give his opinion of the child’s potential. He carefully studied the untidy script. “Are you the boy’s mother,” he asked. She answered negatively.
“Perhaps you are related in some way?” Balzac asked again. The old lady replied negatively once more. “Then I will tell you quite frankly my opinion,” he said. “This youth is slovenly and probably stupid. I’m afraid that he will never amount to anything.”
Hearing those words, the old lady laughed. “But, sir, that notebook was your own when you were a little boy at school.”
Roger Eastman was right when he said, “Usually our criticism of others is not because they have faults, but because their faults are different than ours.”
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