If you see a person with tattoos and think they must have been in prison or a member of a gang? Do you see someone who is obviously homeless, and think they are going to ask me for money for alcohol, or drugs? Or maybe you see an older person, with a far off look in their eyes and think, wow they have lost it and should be in a home? Maybe you see someone who is rather bubbly and think to yourself that they are just showing off? Or you see people who are different and think, why are they wearing that? Is that person supposed to live here? That man looks dangerous, only because his or her skin color is different from yours?
Maybe it is time to think in a different way. That very same person with all the tattoo’s: just because they have them does not mean they have spent any time in jail. Maybe for them it’s a form of personal expression. There are cultures in this world where tattooing is an important ritual, for them their tattoos express status, their place in that society.
That person who is homeless, how do you know? Maybe they have fallen on difficult times, maybe they do not want to be on the street, but every place they call for help is full, or can no longer provide assistance. And maybe they are only looking for some human compassion, so they can find some measure of dignity.
That older person, with that far off stare, maybe they are lost in the realization that their children now consider them a burden. Maybe they cannot come to terms with the idea that they spent their lives providing for their family. And now when they need their family, their family no longer wants to be with them, and that far off stare is the hurt they feel knowing that they have little left to live for.
That person who is always smiling, has an effervescent personality, is hiding behind that smile. The smile to hide the despair they feel, from trying to raise a child on a single income. They work and work and can never seem to get ahead of themselves. They do the best they can and it never seems to be enough, and that smile is the only thing that holds back the tears of hopelessness.
How about the people who dress differently, whose skin is not the same color as your own, who live daily with the knowledge that they are the outcasts, the lepers of our time. They live in fear that others will judge them on a preconceived notion that because they are different, they are somehow less important.
Maybe you feel this way, but consider this, maybe all these people feel in a similar way to you. Maybe they see you as someone who has no compassion for others, or they see you as someone who has all that they could ever want or need. Maybe they see you as one who had become so isolates in your own life that your ability to show any concern of compassion is as foreign an idea as living on another planet. They may be just as judgmental of you are you are of them, based only on what they see, rather than what they know.
Jesus tell us, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-3
If this is what we are told, then why are we so quick to judge? Why are we so quick to not understand that others may have difficulties that are greater than our willingness to judge? And why are we so willing to ignore what Jesus tells us in Matthew?
We must all understand and live by the idea that we should not judge based on what our eyes tell us. Rather, we should be willing to seek understanding about what we see and regardless of what we see. We must open our hearts and offer the compassion that can only come from one person to another.