Monday, July 18
Recently, I attended a church potluck/religious discussion meeting. The subject: Being Judgmental. Being humans, we tend to judge others at the drop of a hat. It comes to us like second nature. Best example of our judgmental way is this phrase: “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” That is because as humans, we tend to judge someone as soon as we see them.
I am no different in that I have judged whether I like someone or not upon the impression I got when I first met him or her. Now, I can’t count how many times I found myself wrong in these situations. Thus the saying, “Jumping to the wrong conclusion.”
Another reason we may judge someone wrongly is that we humans sometimes don’t wait to hear the whole story or get all the facts about a person, event or situation. How many times has one watched television while someone was tried for a heinous crime and thought the person was guilty? This is especially true when the reporters broadcast information against the person and later in information turns out to be wrong.
Now, using the statements about being judgmental from the above three paragraphs, let’s apply some of them to our characters. One character stumbles across a situation already in progress. Two men fighting over a gun. One of them wore a security guard uniform. The gun slipped out of both men’s hands and landed in a trash can. Character A, who had entered the scene, assumed that the one wearing the uniform was the good guy and may choose to assist the man.
But, what if the security guard took off out the front door as the other man tore into the trashcan to get the weapon. The story twist I am trying to portray is that the person in the security guard uniform came in to rob the donut shop. The one going for the weapon could be someone defending himself or could be a plains-clothes police officer.
Another twist on bring judgmental is that what if the character was one of those unfortunate people who found herself/himself accused of a crime and found innocent by a jury. S/he moved to a new town on the other side of the country but her/his past caught up with her/him. How does this affect the character and the story? To me, this could provide some of the conflict in the story.
There are many ways one can use the characteristic of ‘judging’ to add dimension to a character. Is the person too sensitive and jumps to a conclusion too fast? Or does s/he hold her/his tongue until they get the full story?
A synopsis of a CSI: Miami episode from several years ago: a popular secretary is found dead. The company rumor-mill had indicated that she had met several times with the head chemist of a cosmetic company. The insinuation of an ongoing affair made its way around the company. The person responsible for the murder turned out to be the company president because she loved the chemist. But, the chemist was not having an affair. He had asked the secretary to teach him how to dance because he knew the company president loved to dance and he did not know how. He wanted to surprise her.
How is that for a study of judging other people? The receptionist judged the secretary when she spread the rumor of the tryst the woman had with the chemist. The same person judged the chemist as being unfaithful for the same reason. The company president jumped to the same conclusion and killed the so-call rival for her man’s love. Look at the trouble ‘jumping to the wrong conclusion’ caused.
A quick judgment on the part of one person could affect the relationship between characters and groups. The rest of the story can be about how the character searches for the solution for the problems and straightening out the problems that caused the conflict in the first place.