Was that me?

It is so easy to comment negatively when confronted with an apparent lack of thought.  It is so easy to make the assumption that “I know that … so why don’t you?” It is so easy to generally put somebody down (or elevate oneself … the difference is simply perspective) with no justification.

When walking Ray, I am continually amazed at people who will encroach his “space” with no thought as to how he may react.  I have never done that but then, I had a healthy respect for dogs as a result of being bitten in my mid teens.

However, I am also dismayed at parents who let their child rush up to Ray with the clear intention of touching him. I have blocked such moves so many times, and I wonder why they are not more responsible but … was that me many years ago? With two children, I never thought to warn them about touching a dog they did not know, and I don’t recall ever asking a dog owner if it was okay.

I am dismayed at the total disregard by vehicle owners to the dangers of drinking and driving, and the argument that “I drive better after a few drinks because I have to concentrate” is nothing but ignorance and stupidity. Was that me many years ago? A friend and I used to go “Ruddling”! A local brewery called Ruddles, owned a number of pubs in our area, and Ruddling involved driving to as many of them as possible in one evening, with the condition that you had to have a pint of beer at each one!

I am dismayed at some people I have known who have not equated the responsibilities of a family, with maintaining a steady income. Was that me many years ago when I had a difference of opinion with my employer and quit? With a wife and two children, the following few months became very demanding and traumatic.

I am dismayed at people whose desire for material things, over-rides any financial logic, and they end up heavily in debt and with no obvious way to rectify the situation. Was that me many years ago when our income was significantly less than our outgoing obligations? We literally diverted all available funding to whoever made the most “noise”.

I am dismayed at people who take no responsibility for their actions, but simply lay blame. It is so easy to blame “the dog”, or “the weather”, or “the government”, or “the bus service” etc. etc. Was that me many years ago? It wasn’t my fault I was out of work … it was that stupid company. It wasn’t my fault  we had no money, it was the government’s fault for not giving me sufficient unemployment support.

It is so easy (far too easy) to criticize the apparent shortcomings of others, but the chances are that we’ve all been there to some degree. The difference is so often simply life. At my age, I like to believe that I have learned a lot about life. It would be nonsense for me to assume that somebody much younger has learned the same lessons.

Not only should we be sensitive to the infinite life lesson possibilities, and recognize that we have had some that “they” clearly have not yet had, but we should also acknowledge that “they” have no doubt learned things that we currently know nothing about!

All other things being equal, age should always offer the advantage in life skills. Isn’t that one of the positives about the aging process? But let us not discount others, simply based on their younger age, because there is a very good chance that they have simply experienced different things to us.

Perhaps the next time we are tempted to criticize that crazy driver; that thoughtless parent; that frustrated store teller; that impulsive teenager … perhaps before we do anything, we should ask ourselves “Was that me many years ago?”

39 thoughts on “Was that me?

  1. I totally agree with all you said here. We quickly judge others only because we would not do the same thing today or in that very moment but… We have a saying here which says: “Clean in front of your own door!” Very thought-provoking post, Colin.

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  2. Colin
    Fear there is little hope for me. I can identify with most of the failings in “Grumpy old men/women” TV series! But I admire your reasoning.

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  3. Was that me who was so judgmental in my early adult years who didn’t realize people made bad decisions and then were left to deal with the consequences, and who felt so superior that My Better Half and I had made good decisions? Sadly enough, it was. At the age of 74, I have much more tolerance, compassion and am rarely judgmental. Now I just want to listen to younger peoples’ stories andd be their #1 cheerleader when they reach out for a second chance, or a third, or a fifteenth…

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  4. We all learn by experience. It’s good to share our knowledge, but it’s a thin line between teaching and shaming sometimes. Tact is tricky. I also have people who approach my dogs or want to pet them. One is friendly, the other is not. The friendly one is 65 lbs and very exuberant. If they encourage him, he will jump up, put muddy paws on their clean pants, knock them over, wash their faces with dog kisses. I warn them and if they still insist, they deserve what they get. 🙂

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  5. It’s a good question to ask, in my opinion. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences. It seems to me that it’s a lot easier to educate someone who hasn’t learned something we’ve learned ourselves, when we refrain from condemnation. Reflecting on our own past ignorance about various things can help us be more forgiving.

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  6. A very insightful post, so very true. It is so easy to forget the things we may have done in the past, while judging someone whose actions we think are crazy! If we haven’t done it in the past, be careful, for we still may do it! What came to my mind when I was reading, is how easy it is to judge parents before you have children of your own. “My toddler will never throw a tantrum in a grocery store!” ” I will never give them candy to help them stop screaming.” ” My child would never say that!”

    Then you have children and yes, its your child that throws the tantrum and you are the one that gives them candy, just so you can get out of the store with your sanity still somewhat intact. It is your child that loudly makes a remark to the cashier, that instantly makes your face grow hot. It is your child that chooses to jump into the huge fountain in the middle of big medical office building,
    I have now many times been able to look into the face of a stressed and embarrassed parent of young children and give them a word of encouragement or just a simple smile, letting them know they are going to make it!
    Great post!

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  7. I think back to some of the things I did many years ago and am appalled that I did them.
    I used to enjoy a half of lager and lime, maybe a pint in total on darts nights, but never more, especially as I was driving. Now driving or not, I don’t drink at all.
    Approaching dogs as a child or as an adult was a given, and I never thought to ask. Now it’s a different story, and if a child shows an interest in Maggie, I hold her collar and ask the parent if the child would like to say hello. For myself, I always ask, same as giving treats, as you never know if the dog has a blind side, is nervous, or is on a restrictive diet.
    I think I did OK with the kids in my care, being the same rule for all. I think of how my nieces were though and they were the best contraceptive in the world. They were selfish and inconsiderate brats and I didn’t like them very much. Now older and mothers/grandmother in their own right, they see things differently and have, to me, a better set of values.
    In my failed relationships, I used to take all the blame for everything going wrong, but see now that it wasn’t. My attitude has changed, as have circumstances and I appreciate what I have.
    As outsiders, we don’t know the reasons behind the naughty or demanding child, the angry or frustrated parent. And you are quite right, that could have been me once.

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