It is human nature to judge others, probably because it is more fun than watching monkeys pee on people from trees (which is so much fun, unless it's you being peed on). For the brief moment you are judging, before you realize what a horrible person you are, you feel like you are the most amazing, talented, beautiful, and righteous person on the planet. In your mind, you are strutting around like a peacock and everyone is thinking, wow, that is one super awesome peacock. Then of course, you do indeed realize you are a horrible person, unless you are a really, really, really horrible person (or an actual peacock), in which case this fact never dawns on you.
A lot of people get confused as to what it means to judge. Some people think it means you can't say someone's behavior is right or wrong, while other people use the excuse of judging others' behavior to feel awesome about themselves. So let me clarify--To judge others is to say that given that other person's genetic make-up, socioeconomic status, educational level, family and environmental influences, their everything, you could do so much better than they are doing. It is when you compare yourself to others, and you come off looking all hot and awesome.
And we want to feel hot and awesome, because deep, deep down, we really don't. For some people, these feelings of self-doubt and inferiority are buried so deep under judgment of others and repressed emotions and memories and probably some old pizza boxes and a bunch of other crap, they never realize that's why they are judging. Well, I'm WAY more self-aware than those people, and I totally can identify that I'm judging and why (see how easy and fun that is?).
So here are just some of the poor folks I routinely judge and what's really going on.
1) Women who have bunches of children (by choice).
What I say to myself: OMG, I can't believe that woman is pregnant with her 4th child. She is obviously crazy, has no other real interests or talents other than breeding, and/or is a victim of patriarchal assumptions about women, either explicit or subtextual. She has no idea what subtextual means, obviously. And she so better never get on a airplane I'm on with all those kids. If she does, I will spend the entire flight thinking judgy thoughts.
What is really going on: I suck. I have to be on medication and talk myself through several panic attacks per day just to (badly) raise my two kids, and this woman apparently finds motherhood so easy, she is voluntarily gonna double that. Like a BOSS. I bet she doesn't even own a television.
2) Women who breastfeed.
What I say to myself: Why do women keep subjecting themselves to a form of human slavery and barbarism in the 21st century? OF COURSE women are never going to make as much money as men, when so many educated women are choosing to make milk instead. How convenient for their husbands, they just can't lift a finger to parent because, sorry, honey, I don't have boobs. And how they lord it over everyone, like, oooh, look at me, I can keep my child alive without a grocery store nearby. As if that is even a real talent. You don't see Miss America contestants lactating on stage, but if these tyrants have their way, I'm sure it's coming. Gross.
What's really going on: I suck. I have failed at the very first test of motherhood. I am unable to do what women have been doing for like a million years. If it weren't for formula, my genetic line would die right here, right now. Nature is telling me, nope, your kind aren't fit to perpetuate the human race. You're fired!
3) Women who have babies without an epidural.
What I say to myself: Those women are absolutely nuts. There is no proven medical reason to put yourself through that. The only reason they are doing it is to feel all superior. No, ladies, you aren't superior, you're just crazy.
What is really going on: In this case, nothing. I honestly don't understand why anyone would forego an epidural. Sorry. I'm sure you are awesome people and mothers, but I can't for the life of me understand your decision-making.
4) Parents who don't allow screen time.
What I say to myself: Oooooh, aren't they all perfect and overachieverish. They are probably already working on little Johnny's college entrance essays. Well, he may get into Harvard, but as soon as he's there, he's gonna start binge watching Netflix to make up for years of deprivation and have to be forcibly removed from his dorm room by psychiatrists.
What is really going on: I suck. I am turning my kids into zombies just so I don't have to sit in the floor and play legos. What is so bad about legos? You can make really cool stuff, like a block of legos. I don't know why I can't just suck it up and play some legos. Or do a craft. Kids need crafts like they need air. Get some cotton balls and glue and crap and see what kind of childhood magic unfolds. My kids are totally ending up in an institution run by Johnny.
5) People who do all kinds of charity work.
What I say to myself: The fact that I know they do all kinds of charity work is proof that any good they are doing out there is negated by all their bragging about it. Jesus said to do all this kind of stuff in SECRET. That's what he said, so those people are disobeying Jesus. Me, I don't do diddly squat for my fellow man but at least I don't brag about it. And Jesus loves me no matter what, y'all, for the Bible told me so.
What is really going on: I suck. My idea of charity work is to not scream at my kids for a few hours. There are people starving out there, and I'm over here internet shopping and snorting Zoloft. What an over-indulged American life I'm leading, when I totally know better. Yeah, Jesus loves me, but he probably also thinks I need to get off the couch. Sorry, Jesus. I'll do better when I'm less crazy.
6) Really, really political people (left and right)
What I say to myself: You people are the reason this world is so messed up. All you do is yell at each other and talk about how awful the other side is instead of compromising and coming up with realistic solutions so we can get some stuff done around here. Plus you really are incapable of seeing the nuances of the moral universe we live in. Life is complicated, and you just come barreling in here like you have all the answers. What arrogance.
What is really going on: I suck. True, the yelling and screaming and not compromising is annoying and not terribly productive, but at least those folks are engaged. I've basically opted out because I don't like confrontation. But the yelling and screaming and not compromising is pretty awful, I just have to say.
7) Really beautiful people.
What I say to myself: Well, it's gotta be nice not to have to use your brain or have any talent and have the world handed to you on a platter just because you look amazing. I am such a deep, substantial person that I don't even focus on my appearance. Plus, we are all going to be old and crinkly soon. I almost feel sorry for the beautiful people, because that's all they have, and they can't keep it.
What is really going on: I suck. I so want to be pretty, and I'm really not very pretty. I know it's dumb to feel that way at the age of 40, but I really do. Maybe if I buy another new dress, people will think I'm pretty, too.
8) Really beautiful people who are also smart and talented.
What I say to myself: Welp, don't they think they are God's gift to the universe. People like that can just be as vile as they want to be, and that is too bad, because they are probably gonna die alone, whereas I will be surrounded by cats if nothing else. Cats can tell when a person is nice. They are not going to surround a dying formerly beautiful, talented, but mean person.
What is really going on: I suck. I also want to be pretty and smart. I have never seen myself as very pretty, but I've always thought I was at least smart. That person is proving you can be both, and that just makes me feel bad. And cats are just OK.
9) Really beautiful people who are also smart, talented, AND genuinely nice.
What I say to myself: I HATE YOU!!! YOU MUST BE DESTROYED!!!
What is really going on: I SUCK!!! I CAN'T EVEN HATE YOU!!! I AM A FAILURE AT EVERYTHING!!!!
That is, sadly, just a partial list. The good news is that I find when you stare your judgment in the face and look at its roots, it starts to whither just a little bit. And as you judge others less, you can love them more. And as you love them more, you think less about your own failings or even your own awesomeness. And as you think less about your own failings and your own awesomeness, you start to see yourself as God sees you, a being with inherent worth. And that is Grace, my friends. It is the foundation of what I believe. It's all about facing the truth and being set free. It's a process.