While driving today I reflected on how easy it is to judge someone by the car they are driving. Seriously, how many times have you done this? What type of driver/person comes to mind when I mention the following: A huge SUV with tinted windows and fancy rims speeds past you, a run-down, paint-peeling 2-door moves along at 5 mph below the speed limit, a semi-truck with those sillohuetted naked women on the flaps barrels down on traffic in front of you, a minivan - ok, just a minivan.
If I'm not living in my yoga, I am totally guilty of making a split second judgement on the driver. As I pass by and catch a glimpse of the person behind the wheel, all too often I'll think "...figures" and then feel guilty for doing so. I think so many of us make assumptions about what a driver of a car is going to do - or not do - just based off the type of car they are driving. Add to that a momentary behavior that fits the stereotype of the driver we are expecting (teenager speeding, older person driving slowly) and suddenly we are the omniscient god of the road - able to predict and judge whatever everyone else is doing.
You may have heard the joke: "Anyone driving slower than you is an idiot. Anyone driving faster than you is a maniac."
But really, the type of car nor the momentary behaviors of the driver tell me anything about the person behind the wheel. The car could be rented, the driver on the way to the hospital to visit a dying relative, the owner not financially in a position to fix the noisy muffler. Even if you drive past and see a teenager behind the wheel of the speeding SUV with radio blaring, can you really judge what kind of person s/he is? Try to keep this in mind (as I will as well) next time you border on the edge of road rage or get ready to honk at the driver annoying you.
And, if you are so ready, consider this: just as the car is a layer by which we can't judge someone, so are the clothes that person is wearing. (Do baggy sagging pants really make someone irresponsible? Does any type of dressing on the head make someone questionnable? Does a suit make them trustworthy or sweatpants make them lazy?) Go further. Does a hairstyle tell you what type of person someone is? What about their actions? How many of us have had a bad day and interacted with loved ones or strangers in a way that totally does not reflect who we are?
Is there ever really a layer where we feel we can truly know someone? Is there ever a time when we can judge another - to understand that person and their actions and motivations so deeply that we are ready to assert whether they are good or bad, right or wrong? Do we even know ourselves this well??
I've watched Shrek enough times to know that the outside doesn't reflect the inside. Often times, the inside doesn't even reflect the true self...the ultimate Brahman, God, Goddess, true nature, ...the one of which we are all part.
So next time you or I are ready to make a judgement, let's try to peel away another layer and just see what we find.
And FYI....I drive a minivan.