A few weeks ago, I was sitting next to two older gentlemen after I got off work. I’m a born observer, so I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation while waiting for my ride. One was telling the other about his daughter, who was having a child in December, and her baby-daddy, who said it was against his culture to marry her. An interesting conversation, indeed.

He continued, saying he had met the man at his daughter’s Fourth of July barbecue, and although he seemed like a nice young man, this father couldn’t help but wonder whether said young man had been cooking dog (a racial slur, oh yay). The two elderly men both laughed (really?!), and after a moment, he said, “You know, I was born into a racist household. My father was always using racial slurs, and I guess it just kind of became natural to me.” (A part of me wonders whether this added comment was due to the loud, disbelieving choking sound coming from my table.)

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who don’t try to understand one another. I guess you could say I’m a bigot against bigots. In my honest opinion, there is no reason to not be courteous to another person, no matter what your religion is, or how you were raised, or what kind of day you’ve had.

One of my best friends is Mormon. He doesn’t act like it’s his job to “save” me, and I don’t make him super uncomfortable with my gayness, but even more than that, we don’t judge each other. Personally, our relationship reminds me a lot of that depicted in John Boyne’s book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, where two boys become friends while on opposite sides of a concentration-camp fence.

I feel like these past few months and the month or so ahead are a crucial part of our lives. Not to go all election-season on you, but honestly, how is attacking Obama — or Romney, for that matter — going to help anyone? After Nov. 6, is it really going to have made that big of a difference? No, everyone on Facebook is just going to know you as the really annoying person who posted 500 statuses about how stupid Person A was during the debate.

Don’t we have anything better to do? How about instead of posting statuses about the relative intelligence of people who are pointing fingers at each other and saying, “I’m better than him because…,” we all try to work together to create a better future? Crazy idea? Too liberal? Too soon? Sigh. I thought so.

My point is that we live in a world now where we’ve gotten too comfortable spreading rumors, talking behind backs, posting everything anyone tells us on Facebook or Twitter or whatever.

Actually, despite my ranting and raving, I’m probably one of the biggest offenders. My best friend loathes me sometimes because she feels like I judge her for the littlest of things. I find myself judging the judgers; I find myself judging the non-judgers. I won’t say judgment is a human reaction, but I do believe it was something that each of us was taught at a young age.

In his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I dare you this: Don’t judge others by their character until you have judged yourself by your own and found no fault, and only then should you look again.

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