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Curatives for judgement. (Please read before you interact with other humans.)

“Have compassion for everyone you meet, even when they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.”
- Miller Williams

He was rude. He cut you off in traffic. She’s aloof, cold, curt. He’s on the corner asking for a hand out. She lies. He’s money hungry. She’s grossly overweight. No one returned your phone call. They left without saying goodbye.

You might never know the why behind someone’s less-than-ideal, not-the-way-you-wish-it-was behavior.

Here’s a curative for the sharp judgement that often accompanies our disappointment in others — just a single, surprising expansive phrase: You just never know.

Use it before you jump to conclusions that someone’s a jerk, or that they need an attitude adjustment, or that they could be doing better than they are.

I’ve been to enough ridiculous self help workshops, heard enough stories in airport bars, and had enough one-on-one conversations about so-called “success” to know that there’s a story behind every demeanor. I’ve kept my own pain hidden in plain sight and thought, “If they only knew”. But you just never know…

You just never know if

: someone has just been diagnosed and is thinking about all they have to lose.
: their lover just texted them to say, “it’s over”.
: he wakes up every day thinking he’s about to fail, fearing that everyone else in the world knows something that he doesn’t.

You just never know if

: she’s in the middle of a divorce and is about to go on stage.
: before he was your driver, or your waiter, he was a doctor in his homeland.
: their spirit was fractured as a child by unspeakable things.
: she is frightened — all the time.
: he resists life itself — all the time.
: they are frail from lack of love.

You just never know if

: they’re faking loving the heart-hollowed life they fought so hard to make.
: chemicals are coursing through them in destabilizing ways.
: she hasn’t slept through the night in months and months.
: they’ve experienced a loss that will leave a gaping wound for the rest of this incarnation.
: today is especially hard and they’re doing their best, while they wish for just a little more than what they’ve got.

Suspend judgement as a practice of your faith in something true, common, and bigger than today.

Avoiding conclusions can be a monumental act of love.