Thursday, October 10, 2019

Habit of Labeling People

"Right from the beginning, I didn't want to say a word...." With anger in his voice H spit out these words. Someone in the group tells H he is always complaining and it's awkward to hear. In fact, H has a habit of always nagging so as soon as he opens his mouth everybody else shuts up. The religious sister writing in her column in the Peace Weekly on Daily Events wonders how lonely he must be and admits that she also keeps her distance. 

Hearing the words of rebuke, H looked embarrassed. The sister in some attempt at empathy: "You must be very upset." Taking this as a sign of sympathy he went on vigorously with his complaints, making the group more uncomfortable. His words came out in this way: "This is not complaining it's just that I am frustrated and trying to express it by words…" which eventually led to complaints about others.

Unknowingly, the prejudice against him worked also on the  sister, who was not listening anymore. She just kept looking at her watch and hoped he would finally stop. His voice weakened and said, "I'll go now." He got up and in words more gentle in his goodbye than usual, turned to leave muttering on the way out "but it's hard for me to get along with people who provoke me, really." 

"Did I deal with him with respect? Was he able to feel the judgment and prejudices towards him I had?"  
Sister was concerned about the negative feelings towards him which made her feel uncomfortable.

Complaining does that to one. We try to justify what is done, it makes one feel superior. Sometimes feelings of injustice come to mind until they are released. I don't think what I say is complaining. I don't even think about it at all. So I can't hear myself complaining. Maybe it's because it has now become who I am.

As we look into the mind, it's as if a child is complaining. "Why is this here?" "Can't you say that a little more gently?" "The food is salty." Why is it so nosy? "Here he goes again." In our heads, we have these and many more thoughts which like in a child go around and around and at times are sputtered out.

Besides, the tendency is there to label people: 'Chatterbox', 'Blockhead', 'Zombie', 'Useless Person', 'Perfect Teacher'. The moment this happens they enter a small box I make and no longer can I experience the uniqueness and humanity of those with whom I meet and react with.

Yes. I could not see H as he was because of the label I attached to him. His wounds were also subject to judgment. So I wasn't talking to H, I was talking to the label I attached to him.

"There is something I shouldn't think of", concludes the sister. It's a label attached to someone. People labeled Mary Magdalena a 'sinner', but at that moment she was no longer a sinner. The Pharisee considered the publican who prayed in the temple a sinner, but at that moment Jesus recognized him as "righteous".

Every person we meet, who is before me right now, should be like meeting them for the first time. Because this person may not be that person he or she was yesterday. "To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often."

No comments:

Post a Comment