Gauging the message by the messenger – are you a hypocrite?

We have this acquired tendency to gauge the value of a message based on the appearance of the person bearing the message. If you (reader) claim that you don’t judge the message by its messenger, you are simply lying.

You see, I, the author of this blog post have no compunctions about calling a spade a spade. I AM after all wearing the persona of a Bollywood mega-villain! I call a spade a spade. And all of you are hypocrites par excellence.

Why? Because you don’t listen to the message. You evaluate whether the messenger is likely to be an “authentic” messenger. For instance, if a traveling door-to-door salesperson rang your door-bell and told you that you have won a million dollars, you would take one look at him/her and decide that it must be a scam.

Similarly, if a homeless person off the street shared with you the most sublime wisdom, you would reject it (or perhaps not even hear what the person has to say), just because you tend to judge the proverbial book by its cover!

I bet you nine times out of ten, you would not even stop to talk to a homeless person. Let alone the homeless, even someone who looks different from you. We all carry a self-image of ourselves, which defines how we identify ourselves, our pre-conceived ideas about our personality. We are defined by our social status, financial wherewithal, the kind of vehicle we drive, how expensive our clothes are, and so on.

This is such an intrinsic function of our mind, that most people start to evaluate the worth of another person with the very first look. And nine times out of ten, we don’t get to know a good soul simply because they didn’t “make the cut” in terms of worthiness, simply by their appearance.

However, that same first look, which allowed us to judge and label another human being can also help us know another being more closely. Only we have to change where we focus. Instead of taking in the individual’s outer countenance, we just have to look at their face. The face tells a lot. It will tell you whether the person is kind or cruel, sad or happy, bitter or cheerful, and so on.

Even more refined can be just looking into the individual’s eyes. The old saying that “the eyes are the window to one’s soul” is very true. A person’s eyes will reveal more to you than all your years of learned cynicism can in a single instant.

And yet, if we learn to look beyond the appearances, we can learn a lot from others. Hearing another person’s life story can help put our own lives into perspective. If you’ve been having a bad day at work because your boss or co-worker didn’t show you enough respect, look at a homeless person who has to struggle to sleep that night because it will be so cold that falling asleep might mean freezing to death! Your problem will seem trivial in comparison then.

If you have been struggling because you got passed up on a promotion at work, think of the waitress at your local restaurant who has to stand on her feet several hours a day, dealing with annoying customers with a smile on her face, just because it’s her job, and a thankless one at that.

The message need not be explicit even, as just the presence of the messenger can convey more than words ever can. So, Mogambo ordains that all of you who have managed to read this far, take it upon yourselves to start looking at the faces and eyes of everyone you meet, withholding judgement for a few minutes everyday. See if it doesn’t teach you a thing or two!

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