A few years ago my family and I pulled into Costco to get gas. As we pulled up to the pump, there was a Prius at the pump in front of us. It had a bumper sticker on it’s bumper. I can’t remember the exact words of the bumper sticker but the meaning was clear, those who drive gas guzzling cars are unpatriotic.
We were driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
We were also on our way to the airport to drop my husband off so he could return to Iraq to finish out the last few months of his year long deployment.
The bumper sticker hurt me. Here I was about to send my husband back to war and be left home alone again with two small children yet this person thinks that I am unpatriotic because of the kind of car I drive. He doesn’t know anything about our family, what my husband did for work, what we did in our free time, many of the reasons why we drove the vehicle that we did. I felt like all he saw was what kind of car we were driving and that told him everything about us.
I realize that this was a vulnerable time in my life and at another time the bumper sticker probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much. I also understand the arguments that can be made about our dependance on foreign oil and how that effects our country. But to me being patriotic is so much more than the kind of car we drive.
I have thought about this experience many times throughout the years. It has helped me to realize how quickly and easily we pass judgements about those around us, sometimes for the smallest of things that don’t really tell us the kind of person they are.
I am certainly not an exception. As I was leaving Costco another time I was going to cross the parking lot when I looked up and saw an Escalade coming. I stopped because the thought in my mind was, “They’re in an Escalade, they’re not going to stop for me.” I realized then that I judge the kindness of people by the kind of car they drive. Because someone drives an expensive car it is easy for me to think they are self-centered and don’t care about others. Obviously that assumption isn’t true. I know some really nice people who drive Escalades and they would probably stop for me in a parking lot.
Maybe it’s so easy to judge others because we figure it’s not hurting them, they don’t know what we are thinking about them so it doesn’t really matter. A lot of the times that might be true, they won’t know, but the problem with thoughts is that they precede actions and I’m sure people can tell by our actions how we think about them.
I love the quote by Mother Teresa, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
I wonder what my life would be like if I immediately loved everyone instead of judging them? I can’t help but think I would have a much more joyous existence.
If you want to read a wonderful talk on this subject go here. It’s one of my favorites of all time.