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It's Not My Business

I was attending our church “Journey to Wholeness” group (a gathering of white congregants dedicated to exploring our own racism). We watched a video clip of three people talking about receiving feedback or criticism about a racist comment or action. It was very informative. Some of the people in the video were white and some were people of color. I agreed with everything they said, BUT… (and here comes the problem!) I was completely judgmental about their make-up, their dress, their choice of colors, their nose rings, their hair color, tattoos, their “conflicting” gender presentations. I watched myself make all these judgments. I was spending time thinking about their appearance more than the content of what they had to say. So, I lifted this up to the group when the video clip was done. Most of them had the same reaction. Our facilitator, the minister, talked about himself having had a similar situation and he said probably the most important thing he had learned in all of his racism work was “It’s not my business.” Oh, yes! I can so relate to that and hope to be able to incorporate it into my interactions in the world. “It’s not my business”. How someone chooses to dress, to decorate themselves, etc.

Then this morning I was reading in a book (Real Change) by the Buddhist writer Sharon Salzberg. She writes “Clearly seeing our assumptions will deconstruct them”. That’s a relief! It’s one reason to meditate Salzberg says – to learn to see your assumptions rising and not to act on them. She goes on to say “We don’t have to judge ourselves for these thoughts and feelings because we realize it’s our involvement with them that’s the problem, not the fact that they arose to begin with.” That too is comforting… of course, I will have judgments that arise, that get in my way. But it’s not the judgments themselves that are the problem. The problem is that I begin to make other assumptions that lead me down a path I don’t want to be on…. A path where I assess, based on faulty information, whether a certain person deserves my attention or not. It’s an entitlement that I truly want to stop! It’s a journey – and a seemingly long one to train ourselves out of our tendency to judge people based on things that are “NOT OUR BUSINESS”!!!

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1 Comment

May 01, 2023

Namaste. Liked this writing a bunch. My opinion (!) is that the manner in which someone dresses, adorns, or otherwise presents themselves is meant to be noticed. The person wants to be noticed, different, one of a kind. In the end, it is distracting. In your case, I understand what you noticed about these people, but I feel they are bringing it deliberately to our attention, so no derogatory judgment on your part.

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