Will is a kind young man. He goes out of his way to be kind to other people, to look them in the eye, and to smile. He seeks to treat everyone as he would want to be treated.
On this Tuesday afternoon, Will was headed to work at the local bookstore. The store was at the end of long, modern strip mall. Every day, as was his custom, Will came in at the opposite end of the mall. He has to cross five cross walks to reach the store.
At the first crosswalk, Will encountered a mother with two small children. He smiled and waved them across.
At the second crosswalk, Will waited patiently as an elderly man with a walker slowly made his way across. He smiled at Will and mouthed, “Thank you.”
The third crosswalk presented a young woman loaded down with bags. He looked at the clock on his phone, now concerned he might be late for work. The young woman smiled appreciatively as he waved her across.
As he approached the fourth crosswalk, he noticed a car that had patiently allowed several cars to turn in front of him. He stopped and let the car go, as the clock turned to 3:00. He was now officially late.
He approached the fifth crosswalk, now feeling some stress. As he approached, he saw man exiting the store and heading toward the crosswalk. It was one of those 50/50 calls. You’ve had them. Should you beat the pedestrian or wait?
Will accelerated slightly through the crosswalk. The man ran out and kicked the back of his car. He shouted that Will was a selfish a$sh*le. Then he yelled something about how selfish people Will’s age are.
You’re probably thinking what a jerk. How judgmental. You’re right.
Let’s be honest, though. How often in life are we the person at that fifth crosswalk?
Someone cuts us off in traffic. Someone holds a different political view than us. We don’t have any context. For all we know, that person could have just proverbially let four other people cross and he might be late for work. We judge that person, quickly and finally, based on one thing.
If you’re like me, you’re complicated. Far too complicated to be summed up by one action, one belief, or one word. Why don’t we give others the benefit of that doubt? Why do t we think a little more before we oversimplify other human beings and judge them based on practically nothing.
Maybe the next time you’re ready for swift summary judgment, you’ll stop and wonder about the other four crosswalks.
Be the person you came to the planet to be.