Taken for Grant-ed


All my life, I thought Ulysses S. Grant was a drunk.

Why? I read a book that said so when I was a teenager.

A few days ago, I began reading a book that has convinced me otherwise.

He wasn’t a drunk and a failure; on the contrary, he battled against a disease all his life and and by getting up each time he failed, he ended up succeeding as a leader of a nation.

Why care now?

Now, I know that US Grant wouldn’t care at all what I think of him. But my recent change of judgement got me thinking how this isn’t just related to Civil War heroes. I judge people all the time. And I judge them wrongly.

Why do I judge?

  1. Laziness. It’s much more efficient to make a value judgement as soon as possible.
  2. Comfort. If I can put someone in a box, it’s so much easier on me.
  3. Protection. Labeling someone is a pre-emptive strike. It makes me feel better about myself.
  4. First impressions. Limited knowledge. Prejudices. It’s my default position.

It’s also really, really wrong. Not just morally, but logically.

It is impossible to weigh the value of a person
based on a very limited amount of time with them.

It’s a lie to think I can.

I’ve lost a lot of opportunities to better myself, and to impact others, because of my penchant for labeling based on limited information.

It begs the question:

Why must I make a judgement at all? Why the need to make a decision?

Why not rather just...interact?

What if I were to start focusing on the conversation at hand and ignore the voice that wants to pass judgement?

In my journey of finding more purpose for my own life, a simple new habit of focusing on the conversation, and then actively choosing to ignore the desire to judge after, would be a good discipline to work on.

Sorry, Mr. Grant. I misjudged you. I’m going to do better though.

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