September 2007 – Vol. IV, Issue8
Feature Article: Who are You to Judge?
I recently heard an inspirational message that struck a chord. It talked about our tendency to judge others without really knowing all the circumstances. Also, we most often become angry at the very aspects we don’t really like in ourselves! If we were to know and understand the context of someone’s behavior, our frustration, anger and criticism of the person would fade away.
So here is some food for thought: are you currently chafing in a relationship that is full of frustration, anger, criticism and blame? Ask yourself what circumstances you may be overlooking. Ask yourself what you might be seeing in the other person that you could actually improve in yourself. And focus on the part of the equation you can actually do something about: yourself!
The full text of the inspirational message is below.
Of Bubbles and Blame
Lloyd D. Newell
The story is told of an inquisitive widow in 17th-century England who lived next to a man she considered quite eccentric. Each day her neighbor would sit outside in the heat of the sun and, for hours at a time, blow soap bubbles through a clay pipe, staring at them until they popped.
One day, the woman received a visit from a Fellow of the Royal Society, England’s renowned academy of science. When she described this bizarre behavior, her visitor asked if he could get a better look at the man she described as a poor lunatic.
“That poor lunatic,” he said, “is none other than the great Sir Isaac Newton, who is studying the fraction of light upon thin plates—a phenomenon beautifully exhibited upon the surface of common soap bubbles.”¹
It’s easy to find fault in others. But when we do, we may be revealing more about ourselves than those we criticize. The famed psychologist Carl Jung wrote, “Everything that is unconscious in ourselves we discover in our neighbour, and we treat him accordingly.”² In other words, sometimes our hasty judgment of others stems from the worst that is in us rather than what we assume is the worst in them.
We may think we know a hundred bad things about someone. But there may be one thing about him or her that we don’t know—something that, if we truly understood it, could completely change our perspective.
The next time we are tempted to judge someone else, perhaps the story of the widow and her eccentric neighbor will remind us that the faults of others, even when they seem real, may in fact be nothing more than bubbles that disappear in the sunlight of knowledge, compassion, and understanding.
1 See Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes, ed. Clifton Fadiman and André Bernard (2000), 410.
2 Modern Man in Search of a Soul, trans. W. S. Dell and Cary F. Baynes (1933), 142.