How quickly we sometimes demonize others (who we don't really know) and, likewise, how prone we are to cast judgment. That point was brought home to me through a recent experience when I met, face to face, the man who I had once painted in a less than favorable light. Several years ago I wrote [...]

How quickly we sometimes demonize others (who we don't really know) and, likewise, how prone we are to cast judgment.
That point was brought home to me through a recent experience when I met, face to face, the man who I had once painted in a less than favorable light.
Several years ago I wrote several blogs about an incident in which a cyclist was hit from behind by a pickup truck driver.
At the time, I readily cast judgment upon the driver of the truck. Prior to this week, I had never spoken to this individual. At the time, I relied upon information from newspapers, television, and my cyclist friend.
I don't know the circumstances of the evening the accident occurred or what the angle of the sun was like and how this impacted the vision of the driver. I do know that sometimes I have very limited vision on humid mornings when the window fogs up and I turn directly into the rising sun.
Now I realize that there was another side to this story. This man used to be a cyclist himself and he rode a few organized rides in the mountains of Wyoming and South Dakota. He had to resign from his job with law enforcement due to low vision issues. Like the victim of the accident, his life has been altered by what happened on that lonely road. I imagine that there is rarely a day that goes by that he doesn't think about that tragic day.
We didn't talk about this, of course. That wasn't the purpose of our unexpected meeting. I didn't bring it up, and neither did he. We just talked about life experiences and how we had both lived in the same town in Wyoming (where he grew up), though a decade apart. He talked about his family and how this had brought him to Kansas. He seemed to be a decent guy, who unfortunately for him and for the victim of the accident, had been in the wrong place at the wrong time of day.
By talking face to face with the person I had criticized some years ago, I was reminded not only of the tragedy had occurred but also that healing is taking place on both sides and will probably take a lifetime.
Our world needs more of this: opposing sides sitting down together and talking face to face, making an effort to see the other side's point of view. If we weren't so quick to cast judgment and demonize the supposed enemy, perhaps we would realize that the person on the other side of the world (or across the street) may be a lot like us.
That's a lesson I hope to remember.