During my solo trip to India, I had a stopover at JFK and this is an episode during my trip which made me think about how easily we judge others and pass predicaments which are uncalled for most of the times.
I had a 3 hours stopover at JFK and was sitting at the terminal when one of the Aunties approached me and requested me to make a phone call to her son. I gave her my phone and she had a talk with her son and later she sat beside me. Here is a glimpse of the conversation which happened between us –
Aunty: So are you a student?
Me: (I get that a lot due to my tiny frame). No. I am married and stay here with my husband.
Aunty: Oh! I see. How long have you been married?
Me: 4 years (And I knew the next question which was coming).
Aunty: 4 years!! Where is your kid then?
Me: We don’t have kids yet.
Aunty makes a nasty face. I ignore. I am hungry and I take out the dry snacks I had prepared at home. I offer some snacks to Aunty.
Aunty: I don’t eat outside stuff.
Me: It is home cooked by me. You can have it.
Aunty gives me a suspicious looks and says: You cook?
Me: Yes, I cook to survive. Why did you think I cannot cook?
Aunty: You are wearing orange bright striped pants and a funky t shirt with such short hair. By no means you look like you might be entering the kitchen!
It was then I realized, how easily we stereotype people and pass judgements. It is not that I am guilt free. I have also done that on many occasions. I have also labelled people based on their looks, their lifestyle, their friend circle or even on their dressing sense. I have labelled people as ‘easygoing’, ‘uptight’, ‘haughty’, ‘nerd’ and so on and so forth.
Now when I think about it – how narrow minded I was to call names without really knowing the person. What right do I have to judge people based on some initial scrutiny? How easily we talk about other people and pass judgements without even knowing the person fully. I believe this is how we do character assassination of others and don’t even realize what harm we have done!
Just because I was wearing some unconventional clothes doesn’t imply that I cannot cook. Just because someone is rich doesn’t mean he/she has got it all sorted. Just because someone had a baby the very first year of marriage doesn’t imply it was a mistake. Just because someone had a baby after 5 years of marriage, doesn’t mean they had marriage woes. Just because a husband and wife are staying away, doesn’t mean it is the money they are after. Just because a girl wears a short skirt, doesn’t mean she is inviting rape. Just because a guy talks well with you, doesn’t mean he is flirting with you. Just because the girl is talkative and open, doesn’t mean she is asking for it.
Let us not be too fast to judge and give our verdict. Better still, let us try to stop judging and evolve from the vicious cycle of stereotypes. Let us stop judging people by the preconceived notions imbibed in us by the society. Let us open up our mind and be our own judge.
You only live once! So stop judging and start living!