Saturday, July 29, 2006

How I judge people: Are they doing good deeds?

Back when I was in high school, they taught us to judge people. You judged them on what kind of car they drove, how thin their waist was or who they were going out with.

In my 1950s all-Republican town, there was a rigorous caste system. You fawned on the rich people who lived on the hill. And you tormented the poor. You shamed them. You snubbed them. And of course you gossiped about everybody. And it was mean gossip too.

Everyone got judged.

Growing up in my secure middle-class all-American town, I learned to be spiteful. And nasty. And to never trust anyone. "Do they have money? Do they own their own home?" Are they good at stabbing their friends and neighbors in the back? And beating their kids in private? And living beyond their means? And going to church on Sundays while sleeping around without getting caught?

I still judge people. Hey, I'm a product of my times. But now I use a different criteria. "Are they doing good deeds?"

And I judge myself on that criteria too. And my children. And my friends. And my government. And other countries. And corporations. It's a good criteria. It works for God. And it works for me too.

PS: Someone once told me, "Love stands for 'Looking for good'". If you love someone, you look for the good in them. That's un-American! That's Communistic! That goes against everything I was ever taught! Eeuuww!

PPS: My favorite prayer is from Anne Lamott -- short and to the point: "Help for the sick and hungry. Home for the homeless folk. Peace in the world forever. This is my prayer, oh Lord."