Thursday, October 20, 2005

when people cry…”do not judge”

Once, I went on vacation to a tropical country with some “friends” who were your upper middle class sort of people. I had never been on vacation to a place where the rich stayed in hotels next to the nationals who lived in shanties. The haves and the have-nots were pretty distinguished. Now, I had saved every last dime for my airfare and had very little I wanted to throw away. It was the first time I had ever gone on a “for pleasure only” vacation and my expectations were pretty particular. “The Real Cancun” wasn’t even a concept I’d encountered yet, as I packed my suitcase full of history, Greek and my pastels.

The first night I went to bed early because I had had no sleep on account of getting packed the previous night. The next morning, I heard of the imbibing and philosophizing that had taken place the night before. I thought, wow, since they are all Christians, somebody must have just gotten a little tipsy. The week wore on and I turned down the offers for alcoholic beverages and eventually had to be firm about not wanting to drink because I didn’t and that was my firm resolve. One day we went shopping and I bought a few things, always under the pressure and seductive comments of a male vendor. But as we were sitting in a café next to the vendors, I glanced over at a small family sitting in front of their shop: a woman with a child in her arms and her husband next to her. The husband noticed my interest and his gaze instantly turned seductive. I felt sick and disgusted. I didn’t want to go shopping again. We went to a bar and restaurant on the beach one evening. We stayed until 12 pm. I felt horribly uncomfortable as a particular guy would not leave me alone. My friends failed to rescue me. The next night I didn’t accompany my friends, who returned to the same place. I also declined supper one evening because the restaurant was too expensive. I enjoyed the sun, the beach, the hotel swimming pool, talking to the hotel manager and staff in Spanish, reading my books and eating in the “shack” restaurants, where they caught the chicken they were going to feed to you. I had a pretty good time apart from trying to distance myself from the odd expectations of my friends, which I didn’t understand, until I got home.

There, one of my friends sat me down for a talk about the judgmental attitude I had exhibited towards them on the trip, thus, ruining their vacation. I had been judgmental of their drinking habits, their carousing and partying with the boys at the nightclub and their money spending habits.


peonylady said...

At church the other evening, the question was raise,"Can one witness to another without using words?" Of course,one can. One can use or be a parable.

This is a good story. You were a powerful wordless witness. The Lord bless you.

Peter. said...

Having heard only one side of the story, I really wonder who has been judgmental. Don't know about your 'friends' (your quotes, but I was thinking the same; are they friends, or acquantances?)

Am I right in assuming that was the last vacation you had with them? Not too far off probably.

The fact that your friends have a different lifestyle wouldn't bother me. I have a friend who's deeply religious, unlike me. He doesn't preach to me, I won't convert him to atheism. He prays, I'm silent. I curse, he's silent.

Like I said, personally I wouldn't be bothered by the different lifestyle, but the 'sitting down' part would have some impact on me (to put it mildly).

I hope these people didn't behave too badly on vacation; or at least, not much different than at home; over here, Christians are famous for their hypocrisy... I used to belong to the worst religion in this respect (Rome, anyone?).

As kids, we used to 'tease' (not correct word for it) a certain father (teacher at high school) to the point he would start swearing at us. We kids loved that :-) Years later, I heard he exited (at the age of about 70) and married a much younger woman; I remember me and some friends having feelings of great respect and relief for the man, for taking this decision which wouldn't have been easy for him. And to use his remaining years in a way we thought would provide more happyness for him.

I also think we had an intuitive feeling for the difference between what was said and done.

Live and learn.


On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. (Saint-Exupéry)

espíritu paz said...

Practically speaking, I suppose in whatever friendship one would have to work it out as to the amount of influence one is to exert on one's friend, spouse or child. With you and your friend, silence in the moments of disagreement works—communicating non-participation but personal support. However, if he would exchange prayer for a felony, I would hope you would protest. With my friends, nothing but an accomplice worked for them. I rejected/didn’t understand the terms and being an accomplice would have countered my own self-determining identity. Thanks for your thoughts. It’s a weird world between absolute self-determined identity and complete absorption into communal identity. Didn’t mean to write about individualism and community—rather, to demonstrate a need to focus on perception of hostility. Also, among evangelicals here, there is this increased “interest in not judging one’s neighbor” It’s become an excessively over-used mantra to determine who’s right and who’s wrong, everywhere. I believe it was the number one used sermon in evangelical churches in one of the recent years. My point is not to put down my friends but to demonstrate the faulty way mantras are used in slap judgments. I’ve also noticed those who accuse emphatically often are unconsciously composing a cover for the guilt they feel. I think this is what Peonylady is after.

Peter. said...

When you use the term 'accomplice', but later say 'you don't want to put down your friends', I get the feeling you do the last thing, at least in your mind?

but, being a non-native english speaker, I get the feeling I'm missing a lot of the subtler points. Plus some other things (it seems like we live in two entirely different worlds, figuratively speaking; your problems/ideas being completely different from mine). Let's just say there's only thing mr. Marx and I agree upon, and it has to do with religion. Fascinating though to read about this. A very different way of looking at things than mine.

BTW, something I found out: often it doesn't matter what someone says; it's who says it. From some people, I can take lots of criticism because I know they mean well (even though I may not agree). From other people, even a 'compliment' may be like a red flag on a bull... Perception of hostility/friendliness indeed.


On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. (Saint-Exupéry)

Peter. said...

Forgot to add:

the 'gospel' of not criticizing your neighbour is what I had in mind when mentioning the word hypocrisy. Used different examples (cursing priest :-0 ), but it's what I was referring to.

BTW, some of your comments made get my bible (it's on harddisk :-)), but still have the feeling it's way beyond me. (your comment about questions & fools; used the King-James version, slightly different wording, but same meaninglessness to this (rational?) engineer/economist...
Like I said, different worlds.

Realized again yesterday evening: that about every separate line in the bible you could devote an entire life of study.

Finally: saying 'I don't judge you' is like saying, implicitely and very patronizingly: you're wrong, I'm right, but I'll tolerate you. Referring back to dominant culture: it's something the dominant culture might use 'against' the non-dominant ones? In war, the victor is always right and gets to write the history books; same may go for 'winning' cultures.

After reading your story about your holiday, the quote about it being easier to find travel companions than to lose them made sense on another level too :-) I was thinking in a completely different direction.

Another short and to the point remark by

espíritu paz said...

Wow! You read my whole blog! That’s utterly amazing! I went back to see what I wrote.
As for English not being your first—mine either—time to obey roadsign (more grace necessary here).
As for your well formulated critique—I like it. And I think I’m getting it now (or maybe not). But I think your point is that in this scenario—I made a judgment. Absolutely! I agree with you. I, they, me (original post), then you then me then you again. Now me. And now you may not think for one second more or you will make another judgment. judgement >:[ judgement ;) ? Who’s allowed? who not? yeah it’s a question of perception and dominance. It’ll drive a scientist crazy if you formulate it into a theorem. Might take a lifetime so will the historical and contextual interpretation of one line of Biblical verse. Thought I was tired of science. Chemistry to be exact. Started my masters in Theology. Discovered I had simply changed lab locations. It’s and interesting world. Thank God for diversity! I’d love to step into yours since you bothered stepping into mine.

Peter. said...

No, didn't read it entirely, just parts. There's only so much a person can handle...:-)

Guess my life is much easier than yours: I don't mind to pass judgement on other people, and can stand to be judged (depending on who does the judging, as said before; from some people, even a compliment to me will be considered unwanted. (a compliment is judgement too, but in a positive sense?)

After your comment on fools & questions, I tried to put the quote into perspective. Didn't help much though, the surrounding text in the bible was just as confusing to me. Unlike the ?? of Lucas, Marcus, Johannes and Mattheüs which were much more understandable for me (was at the period of dying of Pope John P. II I picked it up). The last chapter of the bible though.... The little I understand isn't exactly happy thoughts. (BTW, read it purely from a historic perspective; in fact, only after reading parts of the Koran). Mr. Karl Marx and I still agree upon the subject.

Chemistry? Interesting subject (used to have hours of fun with a bag of cotton and nitric acid, but that's another story). My brother recently graduated as pharmacist. But when I see how little his daily work has to do with the deep theoretical study he had to endure... All he needs to be able is sign off on recipies and fill in declarations.

A switch from chemistry to theology? Stranger things have happened (economist turned engineer :-) , or a high school friend who switched from theoretical physics to history)

But I think you learned the hard way like me & others: only start a study you feel passionate about. I wasn't about economics, and it showed; took me longer to finish with just-above-average grades. However, after 4 years of studying it I realized my ambitions were more technical; school was entirely different; I actually liked studying, reading the books (not having to force myself to sit down), asked questions, etc.etc. (but people differ too; I remember my brother (4 year younger) having two career options, as he saw it: 1) pilot, because of good salary and short educational course or 2) pharmacy, because of good salary.

I had never expected him to last 6 months in this course, let alone the full 8 years. I didn't think it were the right motivators for selecting a career. Apparently, I'm not infallible. He seems to actually enjoy himself in that line of business.

My world? much less upsetting, I think. Few of the questions you are facing, it seems.

But since you asked. Recently finished my thesis on drilling holes (yes, there's still a lot we don't know). see this link, at the top, though I don't agree with the qualification 'for beginners'. Depends on your view, of course (he may be biased, being Ph.D, SMSME (?), prof. etc.etc.)

How many pages can you stand ;-) I seriously suspect my thesis supervisor for never having read it entirely (not kidding here). This person (Astakhov) however was a completely different case; he even convinced me to do a Ph.D. on the subject. There are other reasons for not doing it now, but who knows what the future holds. At least now I know that my intellectual capabilities shouldn't stand in the way.

Or if you're interested in alternative energy (like me; but from an entirely different perspective than environmentalists) visit

That should give a small introduction to my person.

I almost forgot: the same amazement I have when reading your explanations I had when first learning about Saint-Exupery; I thought this man looked very much like me: loved flying, technically inclined, various patents, mathematician, etc.etc. Until I learned he was a writer too. I got to see an entirely different side, I didn't think it was possible to combine in one person.


On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. (Saint-Exupéry)

Peter said...
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