Practicing at a Church I Usually Don’t Go To – A Short Short Poem
She is walking out of church with very long legs and very short shorts.
I am behind her, noticing, with a remnant, a wafting of judgment,
That I discard and think instead,
You are wonderful, as are your friends, and I love you.
Drawing and Poem by Marty Coleman
Eyes Down Illusion
If you are always looking down the illusion becomes reality, that everyone else is below you. They become inferior and needy. They are a burden to you. They aren’t worthy of respect or true care and attention like you are. They are less than you and you are on top. You are not only at the highest point, you ARE the highest point.
Eyes Up Illusion
If you are always looking up the illusion becomes reality, that everyone else is above you. You become inferior and needy. You are a burden to them. You aren’t worthy of respect and care and attention. You are less than them and you are on the bottom. You are not only at the lowest point, you ARE the lowest point.
Eyes Up and Down Reality
If you are looking up and down there is no illusion, there is only reality; some above, some below, some equal. You are not inferior or superior. You are not a burden nor are they. All are worthy of respect and care and attention, no matter where they are. You are not less and you are not more, you are not on the bottom nor the top. You are simply among friends.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman
Quote by Antonio Porchia, 1886-1968, Argentinian poet
I had a conversation yesterday with a beautiful and fit woman. The topic? How she gets judged and made fun of for being ‘perfect’. I have had this conversation before with other women as well. It’s almost easier to make fun of that ‘perfect’ person, isn’t it? None of the guilt or shame you feel when laughing at a person who looks funny or talks funny. That would be mean, cruel, hateful, immature, ignorant, and judgmental and we wouldn’t do that, would we.
So what is it when the object of your derision or judgment is ‘better’ than you, not worse? What name do you give to your response when the person you are making fun of or cutting down somehow appears to be nicer, smarter, more fit, more thoughtful, more giving, more balanced, more conscientious, more diligent, more loving, more sensitive, wealthier, prettier, sexier, happier?
I have a few words we could use. How about mean, cruel, hateful, immature, ignorant, and judgmental? Perhaps we could add in jealousy and envy for good measure?
All That is Hidden
Let’s just focus on the word ignorant. We will focus on it because it applies to what you know. And guess what, unless you’ve take the time to care, YOU KNOW NOTHING about any person’s insides. You don’t know the struggle she’s had to get up at 5am most mornings to exercise before the kids are awake. You don’t know about her garish stretchmarks. You don’t know the abuse she had at the hands of her mother. You don’t know the dyslexia she had to overcome in school. You don’t know the prejudice she felt being so tall and skinny and flat chested in 9th grade. You don’t know about the skin condition she has on her back that makes her itch like crazy. You don’t know about how hard she works to stay connected to her husband who is busy all the time. You don’t know about her debilitating fear of flying. In other words, YOU KNOW NOTHING about her interior and very little about her exterior.
You see the facade and you make fun because she is an easy target. And she is an easy target. But if you can target her for derision, you also have the power to target her for love, compassion, mercy, patience, kindness, gentleness and more. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter who the target is, it matters what the weapon is. Are you aiming to be derisive, judgmental person? Use the arrow of hate. Are you aiming to be a loving and compassionate one? Use the arrow of love. You have both in your quiver, just bring out the right one and shoot. The more you reach for the right arrow, the more that arrow will end up in your hand without you even knowing it.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman, who has a lot of scars.
Quote by William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, British Playwright
Your Area of Expertise
What do we know? And what do we know we don’t know? That is key to successful (yes, successful) judgment. The problem is we think we know more than we know. Do I know shoes? I am not a shoe maker so I can’t judge the excellence of shoes in a technical sense. However, I am a long time shoe wearer and a shoe looker so I feel competent to judge in those areas. The problem is that can easily spill over into judging the technical construction of shoes, of which I know nothing. Obviously, if my shoes fall apart or I have some shoe needle still sticking out of the sole I can judge the making of that pair of shoes as being faulty. But that doesn’t mean I actually know what goes into making an excellent pair of shoes. But I sure can sound like I know if I get going.
Painting the world with Judgment
So, I don’t like this one particular pair of shoes. That then can translate into recommending to a runner I coach that they avoid that brand. All of a sudden I have taken a specific issue with one specific pair of shoes and painted an entire company with that judgment. That is how it goes in many things, isn’t it. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Judgment can’t, and shouldn’t, be avoided. But it should be implemented when you have knowledge, not when you are ignorant. If I hear enough stories of bad shoes coming from this one company then perhaps I have some reason to judge the company. but to just have a single isolated pair? Not such a good reason to judge anything bigger than that pair of shoes.
One of the reasons I love going to museums is so that I keep up with my expertise. I can’t very well judge my own artwork, or others, if I am not practiced at viewing and exploring art work out in the world. If I want to be a helpful, competent judge for a fellow artist on whether a certain piece is up to snuff or not, don’t I have to have a good foundation AND a current, fresh understanding of art in the world? Otherwise what can I really offer?
Hip as Hip Can Be
It would be as if a man had never moved beyond his 1970s clothing style. Would you trust him to advise or help in judging your fashion choices? Probably not.
Or a woman who has never done her own make up and hair beyond the 80s style she used in High School and then felt competent to judge her friends attempt at contemporary hair or make up circa 2012. Would she be a trusted advisor and judge? No, she wouldn’t be.
Judgment requires both foundational knowledge and contemporary knowledge to be trustworthy.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman
Quote by Apelles, 4th Century BCE, Greek painter
Raising Kids and Others
One of the big elements of raising healthy kids and helping others grow up into adulthood is to help them understand the true nature of judgment. Kids learn about judgment early on. After all, school is actually more about judgment and placing people in slots of acceptability than it is about formal education.
Consider the Source
I mentioned a number of months ago that my ex-father in law, Dwight Johnson, passed away. I went to the memorial service and spoke briefly at the reception about what he meant to me. One of my favorite lines he used to say was, ‘I just consider the source.’ He was usually referring to me having said some sarcastic remark at his expense. It was his way of saying, ‘Marty’s judgment says way more about him than it does about me so I don’t worry about it.’ He was a wise man.
Are You Vulnerable?
I have a friend who is very, very modest. She is working through why that is, and basically it comes down to feeling vulnerable. Now, my definition of vulnerable is about being at a high risk of something bad happening. She feels that the bad thing that might happen is that someone might say something negative about her body. And the truth is, there is that risk. She is sensitive and it hurts when it happens, whether the person is a jerk commenting on her appearance or figure, or an innocent family member who isn’t even old enough to know how to hurt someone on purpose saying something funny in her bedroom as she changes into her work clothes. So, how does she overcome that? I would tell her to contemplate the napkin quote. Is the comment exposing something about the person saying it, not the person it is directed to? The first person can be blown off as a jerk, easy enough. The second person’s comment, while not being blown off in the same way, can be at least understood as not being purposely hurtful. And think about it, aren’t most judgments coming from one or the other, either a jerk meaning harm or an innocent meaning no harm? If that is the case, then the only ones you really need to worry about are the judgments in between.
The Judgments in Between
What judgments are in between? What judgments are left? Maybe ones you can contemplate and decide for yourself if you agree with them. For example, someone says, ‘That hairstyle makes your face look long.’ Consider it. Does it? Do you mind that it does? Do you see something you hadn’t realized before and maybe agree with? No, you don’t? Then easy enough, you disregard the judgment/comment and go on your way. You do agree? Then easy enough, next time you change your hairstyle you consider styles that don’t make your face look long. In other words, it really becomes your own judgment, your own observation. It’s no longer seen as something hurtful or mean or anything like that. It’s just an observation, neutral in judgment, that you can consider as if it were your own observation.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman
Quote by Anonymous
I am not a fan of the Tiger Mom (from the recent book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’) and her ways. I know American moms and dads are wondering if they are too lenient, and maybe they are at times. But coercing your child into becoming an exact duplicate of you, with no understanding or care about why they are and what ‘genius’ they have is akin to kidnapping.
You kidnap your kid to fulfill your purposes, your needs. After a while, the kid goes along with it and becomes the hostage influenced by his or her captors to have sympathy and regard for the kidnapper. The Stockholm syndrome for families. The child believes the parent (kidnapper) did the right thing because now he or she is good at violin or very interested in science.
I am not dissing helping to direct your child, you can’t help but do that, and you are abrogating your duty if you do not do it to some degree. BUT, if you aren’t paying attention or you don’t care who the child is and is becoming, or you are so insecure you need a little mini-me around to validate yourself, then YOU are the problem, not the child.
A thankful shout out to my Napkin Kin in Perth and Adelaide, Australia; Charlie, Margg, Amber, Ebony and others. They are faithful readers and I REALLY appreciate them!