Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Words to live by #5

Don’t judge a situation you’ve never been in

We’ve all done it at times, haven’t we? Or maybe we’ve had it done to us. A snap judgement about a situation made without the benefit of personal experience or any relevant frame of reference, other than the fact that it is ‘different’ or ‘not what I’d have done’ and therefore automatically wrong.

It’s a mistake I’ve made plenty of times before but it’s one I’m trying not to teach my kids.

It’s easy to judge and to criticise what other people do. The mother dragging a screaming toddler out of a shop. The couple who have one child (or no children, or nine children). The father who’s always at work.

It’s harder to accept that sometimes there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, only different (and frequently rational) choices. The toddler may be over-tired and needs to be taken home for a nap. The one-child couple may be unable to conceive again. The father may be working overtime because it’s the only way to make ends meet.

Sometimes there is no right or wrong but there is always a story underneath the surface. Too often we are too quick to judge. Anyone can have an opinion but it doesn’t make them right. (Hello, Katie Hopkins.) But if we take the time to try to find the underlying cause of a problem – or even to recognise that ‘different’ may not be a problem at all – then we will understand better.

Sometimes the path to wisdom starts with one simple word: why?

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