Sunday, May 22, 2011


Gather 'round
Originally uploaded by katzeye


We’ve all heard the saying about not judging another human being until we have walked a mile in his or her moccasins. It is so very true.

Recently I was at a social event where a group of people were labeling a woman as being crazy. I patiently heard them out, and they all got a good laugh out of it, but inside I was experiencing turmoil.

You see, I have known this woman for quite some time. So, on the one hand, I was experiencing some pain because I know what is good about her and hated to hear her being judged so harshly.

And on the other hand, I also wondered how many times I have been with a group of people who were dissing someone that I did not know, or barely knew and I accepted what they were saying as being unbiased truth.

All too often, we judge people on the most superficial things, such as appearance, mannerisms, etc. And we also judge too quickly based upon gossip, rumor, and distortion.

Don’t we also harshly judge those who wrong us? The ultimate in compassion is to strive to understand those who are unkind to us, and to forgive them.

As a photographer, I do a lot of editing. I look at a lot of faces up close. Sometimes I edit a photo wherein a smiling, seemingly happy person, is not looking that happy up close. Sometimes I see the sadness, rough experiences, disappointments in people’s faces, when I see them much closer.

My daughter and I, from as far back as I can remember, have shared heart pangs with each other. For us, heart pangs are when we see a human being, usually a stranger, who is experiencing loss, confusion, humiliation, pain, or any of the human emotions and plights that make us feel vulnerable: the experiences and situations that we usually keep to ourselves.

When we see something like this, we call it a heart pang. Our hearts are tugged. We experience compassion and the pathos of being a human being.

Every human being has had, or will have some really rough experiences, things that will bring us to our knees, things that will test us, make us sob, make us feel abandoned, alone, hurt. We all experience harshness, adversity, troubles. We are all vulnerable.

Every human being has a story to tell. Stories that break our hearts. We need to pay more attention. We need to look more closely. Behind every smile there is a sad face. We pick ourselves up, and we move on, and we keep trying. We smile ‘though our hearts are breaking.”

As for that conversation about the woman deemed to be crazy. Sure, she might be a little bit. But I stuck my neck out and told them what I knew about her. About her triumphs and her sorrows. And afterward, there was a quiet moment. The laughter ceased. I think and I hope that they understood her a bit more, and have some compassion for her now.

I know that I am determined to withhold judgment more often and to have compassion more often, and to want to hear others’ stories more readily. Knowing people’s stories is a way to walk in their moccasins. And once we have, we will have compassion and love for them.

And isn’t that what it is all about?


Kristin said...

You are so right. That heart pangs thing really gave me a heart pang. I never thought of that before.

Carla J. said...

You make me feel humbled with this. i need to think about this too. thanks for writing this.

Jessica P. said...

That IS what it's all about. Would you mind if I read this in a class? I would give you credit, of course!

Mark said...

You teach me!

Anonymous said...

You teach me.

Anonymous said...

You teach me.

Kiera said...

Good advice! Robert totally understands the heart pang thing too.