In the time that I’ve been in Peace Corps, I’ve come to solidify I thought process that has been growing on me over the past couple years: “Do not judge someone by their actions (or inactions). Wait until you have the full story.” This idea grew out of my father who told me this story (which I think is from the book, “7 Habits of a Highly Effective Person):
A man working in NYC just finished an 80 hour work-week. He gets on the subway, exhausted, and tries to rest his mind as he goes home. At the next stop, a middle-aged woman enters the subway car with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. She sits down close to the man. When the subway starts moving, the two kids start chasing each other around and screaming when they catch each other. This annoys the man who just wanted a nice trip back home. He notices that the mother is just staring out the window–not paying attention. Then one of the boys knocks over the man’s briefcase and keeps running. This annoys the man so much that he calls out to the woman and tells her to control her kids. She snaps out of her daze and says, “I’m sorry. Their father passed away this evening and…”
Ever since I heard that story, I’ve come to realize that there is little value in first impressions. We all are experiencing our individual struggles. That is how I am getting through today. I am one of four volunteers helping run a camp in Eastern Morocco right now. Tomorrow we will say goodbye to one of the four because his own personal struggle has grown in recent days. It’ll be hard without him, but I know I cannot judge him for it. On the same cord, I woke up feeling rather ill today. In order to be prepared for when there are only three of us, I decided to use this morning to rest and get better. I hope I won’t be too harshly judge for missing a day (though I’ve come to care less and less about what others think about me).
Then I logged onto Facebook this morning. I started talking to a very close friend of mine. She is going through a struggle with her family (the fighting itself sounds like it has a lot to do with judging others when we have no right to judge them). I did my best to listen because that’s really all we can do. When someone is struggling, we can listen. From time to time, you may need to tell someone to snap out of it, but most struggles need little more than a listening ear. Although, I wish I could be there in person to offer better support.
Thank you Dad for teaching me this valuable life lesson.