Free write to unwind twisted judgment.
The police and neighborhood watch are treating my neighborhood like Gotham City: knocks on the front door, flyers and phone calls, and email with subject line: surveillance have bombarded my house for the past few weeks. The incoming word, in short: there are sex offenders, lurking, strolling and seeking adult services at a house near you! During my daily walks, I have noticed an increase of adult men walking during all hours. Weather the alerts and my observations are related, who is to know.
I am looping my way home. The time is around 5:30 pm, and the hot sun shines bright lights upon every blade of glass canopys of street lined trees don’t umbrella. I was thinking about an email I received earlier during the day, an update from neighborhood watch on aforementioned matters. I was feeling unsettled, and trying to sort out why the email made me uncomfortable more so than the content in the email itself. There is a hunt for predators, and because no one knows the faces for sure, all people who match the profile are like lepers walking around here. And here I find what about the email made me uneasy: the assumption that now, educated with the information, I was to assume the same judgment based on others’ fear, profiles, and precautionary, accusatory inductive judgment. I don’t like the logic of inductive judgment. What happened to innocent until proven otherwise? And even the people who are guilty, I do not want to judge: no one person in this world is solely a sex offender, the whole person is immensely more expansive and deep than a legal or behavioral label–not to excuse causing harm, but also, not to assume it and fear it.
My thoughts were interrupted by a man walking alone, a man who I have seen before on these street a handful of time walking alone. I stopped thinking and began observing, as he was a half of a block ahead of me and we held the same pace. His left foot kicked like there was a rock in his shoe, which was counter balanced by an overly weighting swing of a flat palmed right hand. The unbalanced foot and hand were not so much orchestrated like clamor in tandem, but rather, outbursts of simultaneous idiosyncracies. As we walked down the main road, he would divet into the first few feet of a cross street, walk straight, and then divet out again to the main road sidewalk: a compulsive performance of an illogical formula.
After a few minutes of observing, my old thought string reentered my internal discourse. Sex offenders. I crossed to the other side of the road. I resented myself, loathed myself, judged myself, for every step I took crossing the street, as my pace was beginning to gain speed on his. I was judging the man for fitting a profile, then avoiding him like being close to him was a potential threat to my well-being. Like we weren’t made from the same stuff. Like we had different values or intentions. And I felt horrible about myself.
Then, it dawned upon me, that perhaps I had not been brainwashed by emails and cautionary flyers, and that I had moved because of my own discomfort for the unbalanced and compulsive nature I observed. Yes. I Intellectualized and explained to myself the reality of my judgment: the swinging right hand out of balance is an ipsolateral connection to the left side of the brain, and combined with his compulsive tendencies, naturally I would assume there is something not right in his left hemisphere, where reason and logic are conscious.
A moment after feeling the relief of resolution, and the unclenching jaw of self ridicule and judgment for profiling, I realized that I had tricked myself with a justification. I had re written my reaction to suit the beliefs and values I’d like to think that I hold always, and consider the cornerstone of my character and integrity. What I really did was move because he fit the profile I had been told to assume was dangerous. Imagine, I thought to myself, if the time and place were different I was told to fear another race instead of a sex offender. The principle would be the same: avoid the other for your safety. And I acted as a precautionary measure. My behavior was a reaction to align itself with my thoughts.
I stood at the front door of my house and sighed. There is no way to know if my judgement was based on anything but my own assumption of others fear, my own profiling, or my own intuitive perceptions and observations. Perhaps a combination of them all. I only can know that I judged and moved further away from another person, and judged myself for that judgment. I wrote this all free write as soon as I stepped inside my home as way to understand myself and avoid any lasting self judgement: I do not want to judge myself or others, and it all begins to blend into understanding when knowledge of self increases with reflection, and I look inwardly with compassion in hopes that the same gaze will look with new fresh eyes out into the world on my next walk.