I do not wish to be critical of people
(watch this, I will do it again). Have been judgmental in my life, too many times. At this late date, it is still a tug of war with something higher that tries to steer me away from this ingrained habit. I once wrote a poem called Pieces of you , and the motivations for it I will put down here.
On a time, I was at a gas station snack bar to get some coffee and lunch. The young fellow behind the counter seemed either hard of hearing, or of limited ability to understand, as it took him some time to get my order straight. I probably demonstrated my impatience by pacing back and forth, tapping the foot, etc. It made no impression upon him, as he continued at his slow pace, a wide toothy grin on his face, and no communication. I thought of him as a simpleton, and did not show any politeness in the least. What is worse, I did a crass imitation of him when I told the story, at a later date. Even my own daughter looked upon me with disapproval. This cut to the quick. “Out of the mouths of babes”, as it is said. The first step in learning a lifelong lesson.
When I have seen people with Down’s, those crippled with Palsy, or having other visible signs of “abnormality”, I have been taken aback, perhaps for reasons threefold:
fear of the unknown, guilt that I just wanted to walk away and carry on with my own worldly concerns, and at times a squirming discomfort when their eyes have met mine and I saw that their souls were perhaps more pure than my own.
Once, as a teenager, I had a horrible experience in a public washroom. A man opened the stall door (it would not lock), and offered me a sexual service if I would do the same for him. I got out of there as quickly as I could, but have borne the unpleasant memory to this day. I know there can be real love between persons of the same sex, and that love is surely the important thing. Changing my mindset has been a challenge.
Then there is the prejudice against people of color or different racial ethnicity. I still realize its presence within me in some ways, even though, as they say “Some of my best friends are …..)”. Some seem to be inscrutable and alien to me, and I am at a loss as to how to read them. I do not think that one can say that these prejudices are learned, blaming the media or those around us who exhibit them. We make up our own minds, and, if that includes going along with the crowd or swallowing all that we are fed through electronic media, then it is our fault. There is good and bad in everyone, right?
And those that are on the streets, or who are on the point of being evicted from their homes. Mostly, I do not know why they are in this kind of trouble. The easy thing to say is that they are there because of an addiction problem, laziness, mental health issues, or all of this. My thoughts about giving them money have been that it’s a waste, because I think they will probably just go and buy booze or drugs with it. I would rather take them and buy them a hot meal, or give them a coat. Would I take them into my home? I do not think so. There is still the fear of the unknown, and what could happen.
So, these pieces have helped form my personal puzzle. You may identify with one or more of them. I know that they are hard things to unlearn, and many of us may not even want to make the attempt. I regret the assumptions I have made about people, and must try to give the benefit of the doubt.
Criticize the deeds, not the person.
Lee Dunn has been writing since the age of 18, but found that work got in the way for the ensuing 48 years. In his home town of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he reveled in his independence at an early age, and spent as much time as he could exploring the city’s Arts scene. He was introduced to poetry and prose by the works of two literary giants, namely J.R.R. Tolkien and J.W. Lennon and thence fell in love with the written word. His work includes poetry, short fiction, and personal essays, and ranges in theme from the surreal to the horrific, nostalgic, and themes on the human condition. He has been published on Spillwords.com, The Dark Poets Club, Journal of Undiscovered Poets, Crepe & Penn Literary magazine, and the Shelburne Free Press.