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?
- Laziness. It’s much more efficient to make a value judgement as soon as possible.
- Comfort. If I can put someone in a box, it’s so much easier on me.
- Protection. Labeling someone is a pre-emptive strike. It makes me feel better about myself.
- 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.