One thing that I find sadly missing from many people’s attitudes is a little good old putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. People constantly get mad, criticize, blame, scorn and bad talk others for their faults and failings. But who are we judge another human being? Well… at least not until we’ve walked in their shoes.
Life is not like a board game where all players start from the first square and with the same amount of currency. Life starts each of us out at different places and with drastically different currencies. Therefore, where we end up is often just as much a product of these two factors as it is our own doing.
This is not to say that I don’t believe in free will; I do. I just don’t think free will is as big an actor in our lives as most people think. Where you are today, how far you’ve come and even how big you dare to dream has a lot more to do with where you were born, what genes your parents passed down to you, how they raised you and what your teachers told you you could or couldn’t do.
Even more surprising is that how nice you are to strangers, how generous you are with your wealth, how polite or rude you are or even how often you volunteer at your local community center are all also products of the same list of things. So, maybe the next time you feel the urge to criticize someone’s rude behavior or another person’s stinginess or laziness, you’ll stop and remember that maybe life started them out a few dozens steps behind you. They may actually be superior to you because maybe they have actually taken more steps forward than you have. Don’t be fooled if you appear to be ahead. Their route may be much longer than yours because of where life started them out.
Here’s an example: a man could have been born to the most terribly stingy parents who instilled this sense of doom in him at the prospect of parting with a penny and this upbringing may have been reinforced with equally miserly genes. If this man donates $100, it may require the same effort for a man with more ‘generous’ genes and upbringing to donate $500. So we can’t judge this person for donating less because in fact he is putting the same amount of effort to part with $100 as the second man is putting to donate $500. The same applies to all human behavior.
Therefore, people should be judged based upon effort not achievement. The only problem is it is impossible to know what kind of effort people put into each action. So, let’s stop judging each other and feeling superior to people who are a few paces behind us in the game of life because you never really know how much of your achievement is really yours and how many of their faults are truly their own failings.