Two things I know well about human beings is that we quite enjoy judging others and really, really dislike judging ourselves. It doesn’t take much foresight to see how this can cause some problems.
For starters, that attitude means our natural assumption is “we are right and they are wrong.” We aren’t generally as critical of our own opinions the way we are of others. We can find holes in their logic until the cows come home, while our own thoughts seem water-tight. We just don’t see how we could be wrong. (This is a good case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.”)
Another challenge that our it’s not me, it’s you point of view can dredge up is that we focus on the faults of others while ignoring our own. This is the sort of thing that quickly degrades to destructive internal thoughts like “At least I’m not as bad as X.” While you may not have committed the atrocity (or perceived atrocity, as the case may sometimes be) that Person X did, yours and my hands are hardly clean. We all make mistakes. We just like to judge the mistakes of others as more severe than our own.
I find remembering this helps to bring some much needed empathy to my life. Certainly it does not excuse the horrible things others (or myself) do, but it tempers my judgment of it. It pokes me with the reminder that I’m just-as-if-not-more broken as my fellow human beings. It implores me to look deeper and consider what could have happened in my life that would have led to me taking such actions or making such mistakes.
The truth is, we all have inside us the capacity for amazing and/or horrific things. A big mistake we can make is to believe we are incapable. There is a situation, though it might be extreme and different than what causes someone else to fall, that would cause us to act in a similar way. I may think it’s horrific that terrorists are killing people in the name of their beliefs, but put me into the lives they’ve lived instead of the one I have now and I very well might walk the exact same path. I’m not above it. I’m broken inside too. I had racist family members of previous generations. It would not have been difficult to sync up to their views and join them, especially at a young and impressionable age. Alcoholism runs in my family as well. With a few different steps during the walk of my life, I know full well I would be in that boat.
When we know we love judging others and hate judging ourselves, we can temper our natural instinct and turn our attention back where it belongs: on us. As I’ve said before, and will no doubt say again and again in the future, our job is ourselves. It takes a lifetime to fix what’s broken inside us; we don’t have the time to go trying to fix other people first.*
*This of course does not mean we can’t help others as we go through life’s journey together. The focus, when it comes to judgment, should just remain squarely on what’s inside our own hearts. We have a lot of work to do as it is!