I wonder how I can learn to be less judgmental.  What causes that tendency within me?  My first thought is that it’s self-protective.  Because I am isolated, it is easier on my feelings (which yearn for connection!) to set myself further apart with feelings of superiority.  Therefore it becomes not, “why can’t I connect with these people?” but “I don’t want to connect with these people, they’re immature, crude, noisy, smokers, meat-eaters, etc.”  If I’m right, there’s a constant conflict within me.  I don’t want to feel like I’m better than anyone.  I know intellectually that I am not.  At the same time, I don’t want to have to “be like them” to fit in, to connect.

Here’s an example.  I scheduled the atheist group’s quarterly street clean-up for today.  Then later on, another member posted a Halloween/birthday party for last night.  Talking with another member (NM, actually) at our guest speaker event on Friday, he asked if I was going to the party.  I said no and followed up with my reasoning that “any party with Jell-o shots is not the kind of party I want to attend.”  What came out of my mouth after that was purely uncensored judgment, something about not wanting to spend my Saturday night with a whole bunch of drunken, noisy, immature “adults.”  Which is exactly how I felt about it.  He called me on it immediately, and I kind of resented that.  But it was fair.  I was openly judging the other members of the group for being people who enjoyed getting a little wild and partying in the modern sense of the word.

I was also a little resentful because I feel that, because people attended the party last night, they will be hung over and not interested in attending my street clean-up today.  And it’s true, only 6 people have RSVP’d for the street clean-up.  The last 2 times it was 10 or 12 people and the first time it was over 20.  It’s hard for me to understand why more people wouldn’t want to spend a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon picking up trash in uptown Charlotte.  I say that with a touch of sarcasm — as I type it, I do kind of understand why people wouldn’t want to do that.  I have a hard time not judging them as “selfish.”  The group’s mission statement includes “put a positive face on atheism.”  What I don’t understand is why more of them aren’t interested in doing that.  I don’t know.  I guess in part my displeasure is personal.  As though somehow low turnout at my street clean-up is a reflection of my own popularity.

It all comes down to selfishness, I guess.  I’m selfish, they’re selfish.  We all are.  It’s part of what makes us human.  One of the things “The Untethered Soul” talks about it how ridiculous it is to try to make the world conform to what we want it to be.  The only thing we can control in this world is our own actions.  The world happens the way it happens whether we like it or not.  People act the way they act whether we like it or not.  I must act on my own convictions whether or not anyone else will join me.  But it’s hard.  Very hard for me.  Must keep trudging up that hill.

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