The very word judgment gives me a weird feeling inside. It shouldn’t because we all need to have “good judgment” in our life decisions. The judgment I am thinking of is when one person or group judges another as being inferior for some reason. Or judgment can also come through pointing fingers, belittling others, or inferring something that could not be true.
Lately, I have bumped up against a lot of religious judgment, just as an observer. We might as well call it what it is; all-out prejudice. I suppose I should say right up front that I am a firm believer in a God or Creator who lives and dwells in us. Whether we want to recognize that truth or empower it is up to us alone. I should also say I have a very expansive view of God and the power we are given through the Universal presence of God. I am not exaggerating when I say my beliefs keep me alive here on earth.
What leaves me feeling cold inside is “religious judgment.” I refer to the mentality that “my beliefs are better than your beliefs” kind of thinking. At times I have witnessed the “religious communities” state that those who have expanded awareness of God are arrogant and prideful. When I read comments such as “their god is themselves,” I slightly raise my eyebrows. I wonder if that statement sounds as judgmental to them as it does to me? Yet, those outside their “crowd” are considered to be wayward from God or have some “out of mind defect.” I would rather be out of my mind than out of my heart.
In the midst of it all, I wonder what God thinks about all of that. In the same breath, I think I can answer that question. Since God is love and no part of real love separates or judges, I believe the mirror stands on the other foot. Moral of the story? Take a good long look in your own looking glass before pointing fingers or questioning others’ beliefs. You might find that YOU are the one who has been the judge and jury, thinking it is on behalf of God. The last time I looked, God stood in God’s power.
Loving you from here,
Dr. Rev. Jenine Marie Howry, Ph.D.
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When I was growing up, the big thing during the summer was to get a tan. The commercials started rolling in toward the end of spring to get that “Coppertone” tan. Many of us felt we had to buy that product and sit and bake in the sun. After many years I can see how ridiculous that was since I have had to deal with skin cancer due to my teenaged baking sprees.
The irony of the whole “tan thing” was I am a female with very light skin; always have been. My teen years were during times of substantial racial unrest, integration, and opposition. Yet, if I was too white without a tan, I was made fun of. This made no sense to me then, and it makes no sense to me now. I even had a man who lived nearby as I raised my children who insisted I looked sickly and needed to go to the doctor because I was too white. He was of Hispanic descent.
Are racial disputes and struggles really about skin color or lack of privilege? When I look back on my life, I don’t recall any type of privilege, but I do remember a whole lot of disapproval no matter what I did. If I had a tan, I was “trying too hard to be darker.” If I had no tan, I was “too white.”
The same has always been true of whatever body shape I had. If I lost too much weight, I was too thin. If I gained weight, comments shot at me that it was apparent I was gaining weight. If I dyed my hair lighter, I was trying to “be like Barbie.” An in-law used to call me Barbie. How disturbing is that?
Since I wore make-up, my eyelashes were too long. I’ve always had long eyelashes. I get them from my father! Those who wore no make-up had their own opinions of me, and those who did felt competition. There never was any competition on my end. I only wanted to be myself.
If I excelled in the workplace, I was snubbed by some who thought, “I must have done something with someone to get where I was.” Could I just have been ambitious and intelligent? If that was the case, isn’t that alright? When I excelled in school, I was a “teacher’s pet.” Really? In all honesty, there were very few teachers or professors I ever truly appreciated.
Sometimes at dances, I was too short and sometimes not short enough. That depended on who I was dancing with. Or maybe I wouldn’t say I liked the right music or the right clothing. As I got older, either my rear end was too big or too small. I think you get the picture. Let’s face it; we live in a world of those who make judgments according to their own lenses. We see this every day in magazines and movies. Especially women are “told” what acceptable is, and if we fall short of that, we feel unacceptable. Even worse, unaccepted. Oh, it does happen with men as well, but women more for some reason. Maybe it seems that way because I am a female, so don’t quote me on that one!
Acceptance is a genuine human need and desire. We all want that. We are the same in that respect. Here is the bottom line and advice on how to get along in a world that looks at us through its own lens. First of all, realize that everyone has their own lens because they have their own hurts, programmed standards, and prejudices. Yes, I used the “p” word, “prejudice.” Prejudging comes from what we have learned through time. We are not born with prejudicial standards. We learn them from others. We accept them out of our need to be accepted.
Secondly, we attract who we are. If we want acceptance, we need to accept ourselves with no input from anyone else. This can be hard because it means un-programming all of those things we have been pre-programmed with. Loving ourselves unconditionally helps attract unconditional love and acceptance. Loving ourselves might take some healing work because of the scars developed from rejection and prejudices.
Remember also, we all are in the same boat. We all know what it is like to be rejected by someone at some point in time. Shouldn’t this give us more compassion and not less? It all takes time and inner work. Sometimes I still think I am too fat, too white, too blonde, too intelligent, too emotional, too sensitive, too everything. The truth is I am not “too anything.” I am just me, and that should be fine with me. I hope being just you will come to be okay for yourself.
Be proud of who you are, and don’t let that go. It is alright to be confident, intelligent, sensitive, compassionate, and accepting. Above all else, be unconditionally loving to yourself and work on being that for others as well. It’s a process and one that might take patience, but we gain endurance for the ride with patience. (Or at least I have read!)
A person would have to be hiding in a cocoon to not see the racial issues that have been going on in our world today. Some things are hard to watch, others endearing, and some inspiring. As I think about racial events taking place in our country, I am reminded of a saying coined by an old black slave preacher as told by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Lord, we ain’t what we oughta be. We ain’t what we want to be. We ain’t what we gonna be. But, thank God, we ain’t what we was.” Dr King was almost magical in how he passionately spoke.
My story from back in the 70’s during school integration and busing is a bit different than the ones we hear and see on television today. I really was not sure I wanted to write about it, but how could I not? In the early 1970’s I was in Junior High School. Some call it “Middle School”. For the most part my memories are good ones. School integration and busing children back and forth, on the other hand, was not an easy issue in those days. The idea was to place black children in primarily white schools and the other way around. The concept was a good one. I know the intention was to promote equality in education and experience.
In my area, Oakland, California, it was often an angry situation on both ends, white and black. I believe children are socially taught ether by society or parents. Children are not born with a sense of prejudice. It is a learned behavior. During the integration days the parents were ticked off, outraged and down right nasty about it all. Not everyone agreed that integration was a good idea. Since the parents were so angry, the kids were as well. According to my experience, what we had was a whole load of angry black teens getting off buses met with a lot of angry white teens who felt they were invaded. A mess is what we had. That leads me to my personal experience.
Let me give you some background. I was a shy little girl who evolved into a shy teen with light blonde hair and obviously white. I had my small group of friends and that was the extent of my social interaction. I was not really even allowed to date at the ages of 14 and 15 but that did not mean I did not try! In fact, a lot of black boys were very attracted to me, and probably more outgoing than most of the white teen boys I went to school with. The problem with that was it made the black girls extremely angry at me. So, what usually occurred is a lot of prejudice and anger slung in my face; and I mean right in my face. There was one girl who made it her personal goal to say something racially angry at me every single school day of my life. It usually consisted of “There she is, that pretty little white girl with her nails, and make up and cute little self thinking she is all that”. It was followed by angry looks, sneers, threats of violence, and some comments by her group of friends that all seemed to back her up whatever she did. If a teacher saw it they usually just told her to get to class.
I never said a thing to her. In fact, usually my friends would just ask her to knock it off, mentioning I never did anything to her, or any of them. I only went into my locker, exchanged my books, got to class, dressed for gym, tried my best, and kept myself quiet. I was not afraid, but I felt very very hurt. I never let it show but when I was at home in my bed at night I cried constantly. I could not stand the thought of facing it one more day, but I did. I faced it for two years of my life, all the way to graduation from Junior High.
Then we came to the day where yearbooks came out and we were all anxious to get that week over so summer can start. After summer a whole new world of High School was in front of us. I was walking down the hall with my friends as usual only this time I was carrying my new yearbook. Of course, here they came, my little group of mean girls and their ring leader. The meanest one looked at my yearbook and asked if she could sign it. I think my friends mouths must have dropped to the floor. I had no idea because I never turned my back unless I had a destination. Onlookers were probably even more astounded because I handed it to her and said yes. She did sign it. Before I could read it one of her friends asked to sign it to. I agreed. She read what the other wrote and immediately turned to her and said, “We are all graduating. Now why do you want to go and say something like that in her yearbook?” I just stood there while the other girl began to write in my book. Her name was Pam. I will never forget it. You see, she used to say mean things to me as well, but I never returned a sound to her. I expected to read things I really did not want to read from either of them. Yet, when I went off to get my ride on the bus I read them both. The first mouthy girl wrote something mean and hurtful, but not Pam. Pam wrote the most kind expression of good will to me that I had heard or even read since the whole school issue began. I really don’t remember the name of the other girl or her other group of friends. It was a long time ago.
You see, we might not remember names but we certainly remember actions; especially ones that hurt us. We also remember the actions of those who are the most kind. Sometimes we remember their names too. Pam had written, “it was great going to school with me and she wished the best for me in my future”, then she walked off. I went my own way as well.
During those angry days of integration, I don’t think any of us younger people really knew why anyone was so angry to be mixed together. As for me; all I wanted to do was to be kind to everyone and have them all get along. I remember wondering why it was so hard. You see, I really did not mind having diverse people bused into the same school. I just did not want the heartache. Here it is 2020 and I still remember those days like they were yesterday. I refused to have anger or hatred for anyone because of their ethnicity. I certainly don’t want to come off like I was some sort of saint. I know I have never been that. Honestly I did not know what to say because it felt like it would not matter. Then there were the angry faces all bigger than me and more intimidating.
I will say this though, “Wherever you are Pam, I love you. You healed my heart that day”. Writing this is not about blame. I’m a little more bold now, as you might tell. I guess writing this is to say that racial issues and prejudice go both ways. The hurt is the same because we are all people. I wonder why we have such a hard time seeing when one person is affected, we are all affected. I suppose had I provoked some of it, I would feel I should be sorry, but I didn’t. I was judged by the color of my skin and my obvious light blonde hair. I was not someone of extreme privilege at that time. I came from a broken home. I was broken at home and broken at school.
I’m crying now. I’m sorry our country is struggling so much with this and has for so long. I am an empath; I feel literally everything. I’m sorry people judge one another by the color of their skin. I’m sorry slavery happened. I’m sorry we never seemed to understand. I don’t want to generalize but I will say that there are more of us who just want peace than those who don’t. There are more of us who pray for understanding than those who don’t. There are more of us who just want what is right than those who don’t. We just need to be more like Pam and be peace makers and heal. It takes way too much more energy to hate than it does to heal.