It seems that Champmathieu is fated to suffer in the prisons as a convenient answer to an unsolved crime. And resembling enough the real JVJ, the assumption is already a done deal and even his own prosecutor is conceding on the key point that determines his fate. Its all about the assumptions.
Yesterday in the movie theatre a young boy, perhaps 11, sat in front of me with his mother and siblings. The boy could not keep still and would jump up and down in his seat throughout, or swing his chair back and forth, clipping me on the feet at times. I looked at my daughter who was home from college for Christmas with the understanding that probably this boy has some issue with autism. Or perhaps it was purely behavioral, and he was trying to make a commotion. But in any event, he had some problem that was a nuisance to those around him. Even for someone as young as he was, it was easy for me to judge in my gut as an initial reaction.
But it strikes me that so much of my negative reaction to people is all about my narrow range of socially acceptable behaviors. And they are judgments that I place on myself as well that perhaps limit my freedom to enjoy the moments.
I am pretty anal about shopping carts in the store. I do not like it when our shopping cart gets left out in the middle of an aisle or at some high-traffic area so that people are inconvenienced by its presence. And with he same attitude, I judge others when they are oblivious to other people trying to get through the store as they obstruct a passageway, perhaps even leaving their cart in the middle of the aisle to wander off at some other location mindlessly browsing the merchandise. So part of my mission in the store is to correct the position of the cart as my wife moves through the aisles. I don’t want to be judged as someone who is insensitive to others. And of course, I am quick to judge the inconsiderate centerlane wheeling of the oblivious housewife for her self-centeredness.
Yes, of course this s extreme behavior. But it explains a lot about my imitations as a person. It explains why I might not enjoy life more in the moment without worrying about judgment from others. And it explains why I might not be so quick to presume good character from strangers who have not followed the same cultural nuances that I have.
It all happens without even thinking. But I am living more in the moment as I acknowledge my tendency to prejudge, and my extremely narrow view of the world. But even in this acknowledgment, I can let my self off of the hook. Sure, God is much bigger than I can imagine or understand. Sure, people have their experiences, lives, and beliefs that are just as valid as mine. But the more recent revelation in all of this is that my God is near to me, and uses me even in my narrowness. So I don’t have to beat myself up over my tendencies; this helps me to let go of my prejudgment and to love a homeless man like Champmathieu.