If you are a human interested in investigating your self, you may have realized that your high-powered brain is really good… and really quick… at a particular activity most don’t readily acknowledge:
I used to hear all the time that we only use 10% of our brain. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the other 90% powers up when making snap unconscious judgements about people!
Think of walking down a street and someone comes out of a building toward you. Are they male or female, white or black or brown? We register these things in the first millisecond, and the instantaneous perceptions and reactions rain in. Old or young? Check. Short or tall, heavy or thin? Check. Attractive, nice clothes? Check. Moving fast or slow? Check. Seem healthy or sick? Check. Friendly or threatening? Check. There may be a hundred little things we register about this person in the first second or two, and the thing is, all of them are important to us or we wouldn’t notice. All these impressions have already been checked off and decisions made when the person comes closer and we choose whether to connect, and how.
And we don’t necessarily give this up as we get to know a person. No, the grooves of judgement can easily get worn deeper as we come to know how the person lines up with our deeply conditioned and well-defended individual ideas of good and bad. Face it, we spend a lot of energy judging everybody… and we’re really good at it!
It’s always nice when something you figured out gets validated. So, reading down into this article today made me nod my head. Yes! This instant judgmentalism is real despite denials all around. The automatic fast brain is way, way ahead of the slow brain of our good intentions (if we even care to have them). Observe yourself carefully and you’ll see.
The thing is, we humans have our reasons for this hyper-perceptivity and they are not shallow. They are hard-wired, having everything to do with procreation and survival. I’ll never forget in the book, “The Old Way” about the San people of Africa (perhaps the most ancient living human society) where this generally gentle and loving tribe has a word for any group appearing on the horizon who they are not familiar with. The word means “the bad people”. There you have it.
A gift that’s come down to each of us from a million years of evolution.
It’s profound when a spiritually-minded person realizes they’re all wired up themselves with this powerful ancient circuitry fine-tuned to judge everyone in sight.
Because in a world where separation still reigns, where the tribes of man still haven’t stopped fighting the old fights over land and water and food and beliefs and egos, this judging of the other is the lever we use to split apart from one another. It is precisely the instrument we employ to go down the rabbit hole of separation to such an extent that we can kill one another.
And so what a blessing in disguise it is here in the US, where the polarization of red and blue tribes has gotten so intense that none can avoid it. The ancient trait we may most need to heal is up in our face! There’s nothing that can be done about it. The teams are evenly split, there’s no communication, nobody’s backing down. And eventually… God willing, we may get so tired of this that some may dare to ask a crucial question:
What would it take for me to look into the eyes of the next person I meet, whoever they are and however they look and whatever their beliefs, offering love and respect simply as one human to another, with no pre-judgement at all?
One human to another, free and clear. What would it take?