I could be inducted into the Hall of Fame for Critical thinking. But not the literary kind of critical thinking. One of my lasting pleas for individual development is to reduce my judgmental and critical initial response to whatever happens in my world.
I am self-aware enough to know where my critical processes originated from . . .wait for it . . . my parents, who believed that they were being responsible parents and teaching me how to make good choices, by pointing the poor choices of others.
A short list of “Thing Never to Do:” chew gum in public, wear backless shoes, curse, have dirt anywhere on you, unkempt hair, wear wrinkled clothing, use your sleeve instead of a hankie, ask a stupid question, be late, make the wrong friend, be overweight, be too thin, have smudged glasses, dance with the wrong boy, be sneaky, get a bad grade, not try your hardest, not do your best, not stand up for yourself, be too loud, be a wallflower, lose anything, forget to turn off something, have an unkempt bedroom, home; and never, ever have junk in your yard.
I sorta, kinda failed in most of the above departments, but I want to say I still iron my clothes. My daughter’s did fail the ironing thing. I remember on an early school morning, following a daughter out of house, before she could get into her car, holding up my iron and saying, “I’ll be glad to iron your blouse–it’ll only take a minute.” Luckily she ignored me and continued on into her much more carefree life.
Being critical of others typically should allow me to feel more superior in some aspect; but for me, it doesn’t work that way. Being critical of others is like pointing the smoking judgmental gun at me. Why can’t I have instant thoughts of “to each his own,” and “There is that God in everyone” (that’s the correct Quaker response). My world would be less emotional, less intense if I focused on my own actions rather than others’. So what if someone arrives at the grocery store with her hair in curlers (yes, I saw a lady last week in this state of 1950’s attire), a child looks too dirty to be in public, holding his parent’s hand, who doesn’t at all seem to want to spit on a Kleenex and scrub, or the kid who forgot to lace his shoes–heck he/she managed to buy a pair of extra-large tennis shoes with NO laces.
I believe that being critical of others, by keeping our “Never Do This List” firmly entrenched, we abandon our ability to adhere to Jesus’ second commandment: (basically) “love thy neighbor.” It is this judgmental, superior attitude that is at the forefront of most of our enduring schisms, failures, loses, vindictive behaviors, and inability to compromise. This can be applied to family dynamics as well to governments and the world’s inability to work together to further the saving of our earth and ourselves.
Be gentle with your critical processes–and apply the gentle to others.