Judgy McJudgster

I’m gonna go all out on a limb here and write about something I can’t spell to save my life. Just to be on the safe side, I’ll add an image that will help me out:

got-privilege

Ever since I had the PRIVILEGE of being part of a conversation about white privilege (initiated by a black man) last fall, it’s a subject that’s been at the top of my mind much of the time. Not just white privilege, but male privilege, socio-economic privilege, educational privilege…the whole deal.

Here’s what I think is a pretty good definition of privilege: If you don’t have to think about it, you’re benefiting from it.

Yesterday I witnessed an incident that was a sickening combination of privilege and judging.

I was with a small group of people. We were approached by a woman who…didn’t quite look like she fit in in with the super-affluent, super-privileged neighborhood we were in. Yes, I realize that’s a judgment right there. We all do it. I admit it, I’m no saint.

This woman told us she needed assistance with her electrical bill. One of our group happened to have a card with names and phone numbers of local organizations that offer such assistance, and gave it to the woman, with suggestions for which organization to call first. (For reasons I won’t go into here, this response – instead of a gift of cash – was the best choice in this situation.)

Another member of the group wandered away for a moment, then came back and said, “Well, it’s a good thing nobody gave her anything. That woman just drove away in a BMW convertible.”

A couple of other people in the group did the eye roll and/or made the inevitable sarcastic comment: “Oh, right. And SHE needed help with her electric bill.”

I kept my mouth shut and squirmed.

Cuz here’s a place where I’ve been:

In my life as an adult wife and mother, through circumstances not of my own making, there have been years when I only had a car (a perfectly decent car, at that) due to the generosity of a kind relative. Years when our family had no choice but to receive public assistance. Times when we were just a few days away from needing to visit a local food pantry.

We were well-educated. Good citizens. Productive members of society. Worked hard for our church, and volunteered in our schools. We weren’t irresponsible. We weren’t lazy or “shiftless.” We weren’t using drugs. Life just slapped us upside the head with some crap that took a long time to get over.

But what if we had been irresponsible, or had been caught in the drug trap? Would that have made us unworthy of empathy or a hand up? That’s the kind of thinking that allows people to pass judgment on those they deem “less than.” It’s not the kind of attitude I was raised to have. I believe that everyone is worthy of kindness. That those who are able to help have the responsibility to do so.

When we were living that life on the edge, I did every damn thing I could to make it look like we were doing okay, so nobody knew how close we were to total ruin. I sure as hell didn’t want my children to live with the kind of judgment I was hearing today. What if this woman we’d encountered was simply doing her best to keep her kids from that stigma?

I only squirmed for a few seconds before the words found their way out of my mouth.

“I don’t want to judge. I’ve been there.”

In saying this, I didn’t intend to judge the judge-ers. I just felt someone needed to be the voice for the other side.

The world is not divided into “makers” and “takers.”

I wish the world weren’t divided at all.

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10 thoughts on “Judgy McJudgster

  1. Amen to that! I have been there as well. Working a great job, seemed to have everything and was living in my nice car for two months without anyone’s knowledge. Life sometimes just gives one a smack down, but I will say that I am a much more wise and happy person because of those hardships. No doubt about it.
    Thanks for speaking up for her, I am sure it would have made a real difference in how she felt about herself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so agree – those years of my life made me so much more empathetic to others. Because of what our family went through, it’s easy for me to imagine what it must be like to live your entire life in that situation. No one should be stuck in that cycle forever.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I know! Interestingly, in the conversation I referenced in this post, some people involved truly had no clue what the term “white privilege” could be referring to. They weren’t bad people, just clueless. And they cared about learning and changing their attitudes, so that was awesome. But too many people staunchly insist there’s no such thing, or that white people (especially males and Christians) are totally persecuted. Makes me want to hurl.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I was just link hopping from the post Bumbi’s Mom put up. This was so well said. And so true. Mad props for not passing judgment. Sometimes, it’s just impossible to know the whole story–it shouldn’t be a prerequisite for offering a hand (or a shoulder) when a hand is needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You brought up an excellent point. Just because someone may be driving a nice car, doesn’t mean that they are not in need. That car could be the only thing that they have left. In fact, many people live in their cars. I think what the one person did in giving her a list of resources was great. There are some instances when cash is the last thing that should be given to someone, but food, clothing, a motel room to stay for the night and resources to help them get back on their feet is always helpful (if they accept it).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear that “if they’re so poor why do they have…” argument a lot. Often about smart phones. Sorry, but it’s not possible to live without a smart phone any more – especially if that’s your child’s only connection to the internet for doing homework. Besides, Who are we to say what someone else “should” be spending their money on?

      Liked by 1 person

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