Yesterday, I was at work, when a woman and her husband came up to the host desk in a distressed manner. They began to explain that there was a woman at the bar they were worried about. She had been drinking heavily due to her brother’s passing a few days prior. They went on and on about how she was a sweet woman in a difficult circumstance, and they wanted our word to make sure she got home safely. My manager assured the two that she would see to it herself that she was sent home safely. Perhaps an hour later, the woman came stumbling up the steps towards the door, my manager by her side, instructing me to call a taxi. I did as I was told and watched as they walked out the door. I watched my manager hug the woman as she cried for a good moment, and I myself became teary as I tried to imagine how I would handle myself in this woman’s shoes. I simply could not even fathom the thought. When my manager came back inside, she along with the other hostesses began to converse about how terrible of a thing it is to lose someone so close to you. The other hosts even talked about how they might find better ways to cope. I turned to look at the host beside me who remained silent throughout the entire encounter and my heart sank as I remembered when she had shared with me that she lost her brother tragically during her teenage years. I couldn’t think to do anything but hug her. It was then that I thought to myself:
“How would the situation been handled differently had we not known what the woman was going through? Would my manager have acted with the same compassion? Would I have judged the woman as she came up the steps drunk and stumbling?”
I’ll admit, I felt convicted by this thought, and I know I speak for more than just myself.
Certainly, the other hosts at the stand did not know that one of the people standing next to them had gone through the same thing we were all so concerned about only a few years before. I then began to think about the many people I am surrounded by that I know nothing about. I know nothing about what so many people around me have seen or been through- even what they may be going through. If I did, if any of us did, we might be much less quick to judge their actions and instead understand them and even appreciate them for where they came from, maybe even help them.
The truth is, you never know what somebody may be going through, and you never know what somebody may have gone through that made them the way they are today. We know through psychology that the majority of human behavior is learned, with only a small percentage proving to be innate behavior. Give people the benefit of the doubt, because the same judgment you impose onto others could just as easily be imposed onto you. Always seek to understand instead of criticizing, and even if you can’t understand, always choose compassion and kindness over hate. We may not know why things are the way they are all the time, but the good news is that you never need a reason to love. You just can.