Critics are everywhere. I think having a judgmental bone in your body is almost natural. That’s what we do. That’s what society has taught us. You judge first and learn later. Is this right? No, not at all.
I’ll be the first to admit that I judge people after first meeting them, heck even after first seeing them. This isn’t always in a negative way. Sometimes people “look” nice and this in itself is a judgement. To judge is to form an opinion or conclusion about something or someone. Sometimes it is negative though and this is when it’s the most hurtful.
I’ve been following the story of the mother who lost track of her 4 year old son at the zoo. The little boy fell into a gorilla enclosure. I’m sure most of you have heard about this fiasco as well. My initial reaction to hearing about this was, “how the hell does a mother let this happen?” I mean, I always have my eyes on Andrew. I don’t trust anyone and half the time I don’t trust myself to lose sight of him. So how did this child fall into a damn gorilla exhibit at the zoo when his mother was supposed to be watching him?
Is there something wrong with this picture? Absolutely! Why wasn’t I first concerned about the little boy? Why didn’t I think to myself, “that poor mother!” Why did I automatically assume that the mother is a bad mother because she let this happen. She let it happen.
Man. Is this what the world is coming to? Have we completely lost all compassion and sensitivity for one another? Have we lost remorse and dare I say it, love?
Let me tell you about my recent experience with my son. Granted, this is a little different because I’m basically comparing a 19 month old to a 4 year old, and these two ages have very different developmental progressions but nonetheless they’re still children who wander. Okay here goes: The last two weeks or so my own son thinks it’s funny to run away from me. He knows he isn’t supposed to do this but he doesn’t REALLY know. He doesn’t understand why he shouldn’t run away from me. He thinks it’s a game. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell him no and how mad I get, he still thinks it’s fun. The kid will literally run into the street if I set him down on the sidewalk. He laughs and he’s fast. He’s 19 months old but the kid is quick! As soon as I set him down at the park he takes off. The first time this happened it scared me. Since then, I don’t set him down near a street. That’s when common sense kicks in. However, I do still let him run around at the park. I know to watch him extra closely because I know he runs away from me but what about the “what if” scenarios. What if I set him down and somehow get distracted for just a few seconds. So much can happen in just a few seconds! I try not to let this happen. I try to focus all of my attention on him at all times, but you know what? We’re human! We make mistakes, and if you honestly say you haven’t taken your eyes off of your kid for a few seconds then frankly, you’re a liar.
Ok, yes a 4 year old should know right from wrong better than a 19 month old. Yes the 4 year old should listen to his or her parents better than a 19 month old listens. Yes parents should always keep a close eye on their kids at any age but especially when they are young, and yes 4 years old is young. But do we really know what happened? Do we really know how we would react to a devastating situation? No. We don’t know. We won’t know until we are put in that same situation, God forbid.
Maybe this poor mother got distracted for just a few seconds and lost sight of her child. Maybe her son was throwing a temper tantrum and ran away from her. Maybe she walked away from him for two seconds to try and grab his balloon that he accidentally let go of. OR, maybe she was on her phone and totally not paying attention to him. Maybe she really is a shitty mother who wasn’t watching him and that’s why he fell into the gorilla exhibit.
My point is, we don’t know! Most of us weren’t there when all of this happened and even the people who were there probably weren’t paying attention to some random family walking around until the kid fell. Maybe she’s a crappy mother, but maybe she isn’t. Maybe she’s a fantastic mother. I don’t know, neither do you, unless you know her personally. What I do know is that if something tragic like this ever happened to me, and of course I hope it doesn’t and I’ll do my best to make sure it doesn’t, but if it does, I would reallllyyyy hope to be treated differently than this woman has been treated. I would hope that people wouldn’t just assume the worst about me. Tragedy occurs daily. Kids get hit by cars all the time. Kids run away from their parents all the time. This is all the same. Different locations but same type of thing. People never think that things like this would ever happen to them, but things like this do happen. Accidents happen.
I have no idea what kind of mother this woman is and I’m trying not to make any further judgements on this situation. I just hope that people start feeling a little more empathy and little less judgment. I’m going to try harder and I hope you do, too.
Note: This post is simply about the effects of judgement. In no way does it refer to the killing of the gorilla.