We each started our lives coming from different places, and had our minds stretched by diverse experiences and circumstance, leaving our final dimensions uniquely distinct from anyone else's. If each of our minds is shaped with different dimensions, then there is no doubt that perception of the same isolated incident will vary from person to person; we can look to biology as an example.
In the back of the eye, there are many cells that process their own image of the same object in space. Each of these images is sent to the brain, but the mind doesn’t value each image with the same weighting; there is cortical magnification, and more attention is given to the images from the central cells than to those from the peripheral cells, to help form our final perception of the object.
In the same way, as individuals, we each subconsciously perceive situations from different frames of mind- moral, self-serving, religious, scientific, and emotional. Just like our mind valuing the eye-cells, each of us has our own unique appraisal of the attention that should be payed to each frame. It is perfectly normal for our 'central cells' that get the most attention to represent different frames, just as it is for us to perceive and react to situations differently. With time, as our experiences shape and further refine our personal appraisal systems, we begin to perceive actions we may have done in the past differently.
So if this is a perfectly biological process; and we vary within ourselves as a function over time; how come when we vary within people, we judge them so much?
Just because as an outside observer, somebody lives their life differently to you, doesn’t mean you have the right to judge them or broadcast that how they are is wrong. Each of the images from the eye cells are different, but they are each real images that have integrity on their own. It is not within our rights as individuals to try to dictate how others should live, particularly if they are just being true to their personal appraisal system, and not imposing themselves on anybody else.
It is so wrong, and yet we all do it. I have been judged an endless amount of times based on the way I look; my beliefs; the way I speak; or the goals I have pursued. Truth be told, in my younger years, I myself have judged people off the surface:
A few years ago, I worked with a shy and quiet girl who everyone at my workplace labelled the chaste one (with me being the cheeky one). One day, I saw that she stuffed her bra. Through my perception, stuffing her bra was for attention, and I was annoyed that I was the one who my workmates were taunting for loving attention. Only later, once I got to know her, did I find out that she had developed an illness that affected her hormone regulation, causing her body and emotions to begin changing; resultantly, she barely felt like a woman. She had resorted to stuffing her bra so that even if she felt different within herself, the outside world wouldn’t be able to notice her changes too. Stuffing her bra represented a sense of control in trying to restore some normalcy to her life, and to help her maintain some sense of herself. I felt so bad for judging her.
Another time, I judged a girl that I knew for always being so overdressed and wearing so much makeup for day to day occasions; I was also annoyed that she pried into other people's lives. I thought it was because she was insecure. I was wrong; the reason she presented herself and behaved that way was to detract from the fact that she was living in a domestic violence environment.
One last time I did that was in one my early days at uni, where there was a tiny girl in my class that walked around in stilettos, skin tight jeans and wore false lashes to class every day. Apparently she was a podium dancer too. I sized her up as most likely being a disingenuous and self-serving person. And it wasn’t just me, our whole grade was judging her. One day, one of our teachers was trying to clean the board, and couldn’t reach; and instead of establishing a strict character for the class to respect her, she was being humiliated because she was struggling and jumping for the board. She was asking for help, and no one got up because they didn’t want to be judged as a 'teacher's pet'. Then out of nowhere, the short, stiletto girl came up to me and said "hey, lets go help her". This girl who everyone was already gossiping about, was the first one to help, even though she was already smaller than the teacher anyway. With time, I learnt that she was actually a very loving, hard-working, spiritual, and philanthropic person, all of which I was ready to discount just because I was judging her off of her appearance.*
What I'm trying to say is that it is already hard being judged off face value for things that are within the norm. Now imagine being judged when you are a walking symbol of something (such as a religion, or sexuality). People don’t perceive you as a human
being first, but rather as a representative of an ideology that is foreign to them.
Just because someone's ideology is different to yours, doesn’t mean that either of you is wrong; just as each eye cell's image has integrity based on the individual cell it comes from. Sadly, as people, once a threat to our personal life comes in, our defence mechanism in reaction to the concept is deflected onto an actual human being. Just remember that these people are still human; they still have to go home to face the way that they have been treated, on top of the existing obstacles they are facing. Nobody should have to face an ultimatum between trying to keep their personal integrity, and trying to live their life without other people's judgement or interference. Instead, we should each try to focus on being true to ourselves, or even, try getting to know the person behind our initial perception.