Posted by: susanideus | March 27, 2010

Judging–or is that Misjudging?

Never assume the obvious is true ~William Safire

Here’s one of my blunders. I tend to make judgments quickly, agree with points of view I like, and forget to look at the flip side of things.

Most recently, I was involved in a discussion of convenience foods. So, you ask, what could be controversial about that? Several of us agreed it was sad and almost absurd that someone would actually buy frozen mashed potatoes or pre-chopped onions—how hard, we reasoned can that be in the name of healthy fresh food? Is it just a sign of these instant gratification times?

That’s not to say I don’t pick up the occasional convenience food—a frozen entree to take to work to avoid the cost and fat content of take-out with the gang. I’ve even, in a pinch and truly to my own horror, used packaged pie crust—shudder! Let’s just say I prefer at all possible times to make from scratch.

Guess the mashed potatoes thing just struck me as too… simplistic or straightforward or whatever… I didn’t really think about it.

Then we heard from women who either have had temporary debilitating injuries, are permanently disabled, or who live alone—all of whom praised and were grateful for some of these convenience foods, and had rational reasons for using them. I’d never even stopped to consider that one might not be able to peel or cut up a potato.

Oh my, the things I take for granted.

What about the latch-key kid of a single income mom who eats convenience food or not at all? Or the elderly alone?

In my ideal world, it would never have to happen. But this world is far from ideal. It can, in fact, be mean and cruel and grossly unfair.

That’s precisely why I need to remember that there is always more than one side to any story, any assumption I make, any opinion I hold. There is so much to be learned if only I listen and observe. Differences are to be celebrated and not discounted. I cannot assume that what I know is all there is to be known.  That is sheer arrogance. Opinions are mine to have; to assume they are all true is folly. Just when I begin to pride myself on being open-minded, I stick my foot in my open mouth instead.

I’m really not a bad person. I don’t automatically assume the worst. I just don’t always think about my assumptions. I need to slow down and be more attentive.  What about you?

The wise know too well their weakness to assume infallibility; and he who knows most, knows best how little he knows. ~Thomas Jefferson

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Responses

  1. It’s so good to be able to get other (constructively offered) points of view, to help us measure our own attitudes and beliefs. I was part of the discussion you mention, and found it hugely helpful in looking at my own quick-to-judge habits. Thanks for writing this, Susan!

    • Thanks for your feedback. It’s an area where I need to be much more attentive and slower to react.

  2. Oh my. I have such a problem with assumptions. I have even caused a rift in my family, one time, by simply not thinking things through, and assuming that my point of view was valid for everyone! Thanks for a reminder that we need to view all sides, and although expressing ourselves isn’t bad, we need to think of others’!

    • Right, Lo, we tend to assume others share our point of view sometimes. Odd, because I believe in and champion diversity and have tried to teach my daughters to think for themselves. They have always told me, however, that they really know which side of an issue I’m on. Guess I am expressive like that, but as you say, we do need to think of others.

  3. Very thoughtful essay, Susan. Thank you. Wish those in Washington, DC, on both sides of the aisle, could remember this as well.

    Nancy
    http://drowningsupportnetwork.wordpress.com

    • Oh, Nancy, you are so right. There are so many illogical, unfair and unfounded assumptions flying through Congress that it’s a wonder the institution hasn’t been fatally wounded. So many people out only for their own gains and their own careers. I hope I’m never that malicious in my rush to present a point of view. I’d like to think that’s not a part of who I am. I strive for better.

  4. Thanks, Susan. This is something I need to concentrate on. It’s interesting how much I’ve learned from a discussion of frozen mashed potatoes.

    • I know what you mean, Kathy. It’s amazing sometimes what will spark a discussion. It was a good object lesson for me. A lesson I need to take to heart.

  5. Points very well taken, Susan. So easy to do even when thinking I’m open-minded. I’ve looked down at frozen potatoes, whether mashed or fried, and never thought of those who need to have the convenience.

    • Isn’t it odd what will start us talking? I don’t care if it’s potatoes or politics. if we learn to be attentive to the needs of others, to consider someone else’s viewpoint. It works for me!


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