...we all make assumptions about things every day. We assume that we'll be going to bed that night, or eating a good meal, or continuing to breathe every single day without hardship.
We also make assumptions about things we see every day - knowing that the light will turn green, or that water will come out of the faucet when we turn it on.
But have you ever given some thought to the judgmental assumptions that some folks make? You know you make them, you just might not want to admit it.
Think about the child that you see who is wearing a dirty shirt and torn pants. Do you think that that child is well cared for, or that they played hard on the playground, or do you think that the child is poor and not being cared for well. When my kid looks like that and I need to run an errand, I feel embarrassed, but it's because my child played hard that day and has a band-aid under her torn pants.
What really prompted this was the assumptions people make in the grocery store, so I suppose I should really get to that as the point. DH was with me in the grocery store and he had noticed a rather large woman in the grocery store with 3 pints of ice cream on the conveyor in front of her, and her equally large friend also had a couple of pints of ice cream as well.
When we got out of the grocery store he mentioned that and said "eat to win". I lit into him for the assumptions that he had made. After all, I've gone to the grocery store and come out with a frozen pizza, a bag of chips, some soda, an onion, and a couple of pints of ice cream (which was on sale at the time). I'm sure there are people who looked at me and questioned my dietary habits. When I was in college my roommate and I would head to the store just for ice cream once in a while and we'd walk out with a couple of pints each - she'd usually finish off one of mine since I wasn't prone to sitting down and eating a pint in a single (or a couple) of sittings unless I was really upset about something.
Maybe the ice cream that those large women carried to the counter was on sale. Maybe they were the designated dessert hunters for a girls' night in. Maybe, just maybe, they had been upset by something earlier in the night and decided to commiserate over some empty calories. Whatever the reason, they probably didn't deserve the 'eat to win' comment uttered by my DH. Maybe I'm completely wrong too. I'd rather err on the side of caution on this one - anything else would be taken that I'm slamming fluffy people, and that's not my intention.
The problem is this: I've made that comment to myself in the grocery store. When you watch someone who clearly has a weight problem and has a child with them who clearly has a weight issue and you see a cart that's heavy on soda, chips and frozen dinners and pizza with nary a vegetable in sight, what are you supposed to think? Should you think anything at all? Morally, ethically, it's probably smarter not to judge on the basis of what you see there. After all, couldn't they have visited a farmer's market earlier in the day and have a truckfull of fresh vegetables at home?
Entirely possible, but unfortunately for most, not likely. Foods that are good for us tend to be more expensive, and in the current economic market there's a lot of folks who can't afford to go that route. But this isn't about economics, money and such - it's about the assumptions that we make on the basis of just a glance without the full information that's there.
I think this is an especially important thing to keep in mind at this time of year when the temperatures get colder, and the stress levels rise....
...and to realize that for every assumption you make about someone, someone else is probably making one about you.