A Florida woman makes three 911 emergency calls to report that her local McDonald’s ran out of McNuggets. We call her “a frivolous waste of taxpayer money.”
A Washington man argues for a national boycott or lawsuit because Wendy’s charges 70 cents more to upgrade a double cheeseburger to a combo meal than to upgrade a fish sandwich to a combo meal. We call him “a loser with nothing better to do.”
A South Korean couple spends 10 hours a day at an internet cafe raising a virtual child, while their real baby starves to death at 5.5 pounds. We call them “criminally negligent.”
Yes, it’s very easy to judge them. But are these people really any different from us?
I know you want to say yes (I sure do), but what exactly makes them different from you? If you had been given the same genes and the same experiences, wouldn’t you have made the same decisions? If nature and nurture are the same, what else can be different?
Effort seems to be a big factor in how we judge others. We expect them to exercise discretion in matters we think they should be able to control, while giving them a pass on things they can’t help. Which of these judgments do you agree with?
- “It’s not his fault he’s epileptic; we can’t blame him for striking someone during a seizure.”
- “It’s not his fault he’s ugly; we can’t blame him for looking like that.”
- “It’s not his fault he’s weak; we can’t blame him for not being able to lift much weight.”
- “It’s not his fault he’s crabby; we can’t blame him for not smiling much.”
- “It’s not his fault he’s addicted to food; we can’t blame him for overeating.”
- “It’s not his fault he’s stupid; we can’t blame him for thinking you can take fireworks on a plane.”
- “It’s not his fault he’s lazy; we can’t blame him for sitting back and doing nothing.”
- “It’s not his fault he’s evil; we can’t blame him for being a serial killer.”
But who decides what we should be able to control? Maybe it’s naturally easy for one person to be friendly, another person to be honest, and another person to be brave. How much credit can you get for just doing what comes naturally?
Calvin (Hobbes’ six-year-old buddy) said that Santa’s naughty and nice list is unfair, because Santa doesn’t judge people on a curve. Susie likes performing good deeds, but Calvin hates them, so he has to work a lot harder. Shouldn’t one of his good deeds count as much as ten of hers?
Do you judge people by their house, their car, their clothes, their job, their looks, their intelligence, their personality, their friends, their family, or anything else? Of course you do. We all do. But why?
Photo by Sudhamshu