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Standing in Judgement...

Judging people has become quite fashionable in recent times, especially with the exponential growth of social media. We are too quick to judge either positively or negatively specific behaviours or incidents. We take a media article, for example, most recently, a nine year old girl in Brisbane, Australia, refusing to stand for the National Anthem and then judging her and her parents as unpatriotic, ungrateful and even disrespectful to the soldiers who have fought and died for the flag. The girl's contention (or perhaps, her parents') is that the phrase in the National Anthem, 'we are young', marginalises Indigenous people. Quite a contentious and yes, judgemental statement and indictment of the anthem, it is true, but should we at the same time be so quick to judge her and her motives?

Already the politicians have jumped on the blame bandwagon to attack her. Pauline Hanson has called for her to be taken out of school and in her own words "given a kick up the backside". Such violence, directed at a nine year old for exercising her right not to stand? My my! Tony Abbot saying that the "girl should follow the rules." Another politician calling her a 'brat' who should be suspended if she continued to sit. This of course smacks of the usual, unsurprising and opportunistic jingoism of politicians. (note my own judgement of politician!!) But what about ordinary people? Why are we so quick to launch into an immediate diatribe against people we don't know or probably don't even care about?

Many books have been written on our propensity to use social media and its anonymity to excuse bad behaviour and diffusion of responsibility. I would attribute this to a more basic reason: the inability to see the world through the eyes of another person. A lack of empathy for anyone who thinks and believes differently from us. Because we view our world through our own lens - a lens that is shaped by our upbringing, culture, peers, experiences and yes, our propaganda and personality, we should expect and respect the fact that it is highly probable that others necessarily see the world through their upbringing, culture, experiences, peers, propaganda and personality. Before standing to throw the first stone, would it not benefit us and our larger world to just have a conversation around the different ways in which we see the world? How easy would it be to just pause and ask the question: "Tell me why you see it that way?"

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