Prejudice and Honor

I have a lot of court appointed clients and they can come in some interesting packages.  They have enough problems in their lives that they are in some kind of legal trouble and they can’t afford an attorney.  That is often the tip of the iceberg.  There are many other issues that show up ranging from mental illness to homelessness.  Most of them are “normal” despite their circumstances but may, at the same time, come across with some anger or lack of trust because of the things they have lived through whether those things are by choice or not.

There are times when particular clients in this arena can be more “needy” than the circumstances may warrant.  That is, they want to spend extensive amounts of time to discuss matters which shouldn’t require so much discussion or call practically daily to follow-up where none is needed.  They tend to repeat their previously stated beliefs and positions when nothing has changed.

Without intention, it is very possible to become callous and cynical towards these types of people.  It can be easy to categorize them in certain boxes and subconsciously deny them the full respect that they deserve as a client and as a person.  The category they are placed in can be viewed as a category which is inferior and not deserving of honor.  All of this can occur without ever making a conscious decision to do so.

I’ve recognized that possibility lately and tried to be very intentional in the middle of what is sometimes a very busy day to remain in the moment.  That is, resist the temptation to categorize the person that I am dealing with and reach a conclusion that their problem isn’t as serious as they think it is or that there are other things or people who are more important.  What they are saying at that moment is important to them and I owe them the honor of not only listening, but hearing. 

The conclusions about others that we all tend to form is a form of prejudice.  It is a pre-judgment of their “bottom line” and a decision to place them somewhere on our priority list based largely on how we think they can benefit us.  We decide the level of honor we should offer based on the level of honor or benefit we receive or stand to potentially receive. 

This kind of premature judgment and conclusion robs us from the blessing of experiencing people and learning about the depth of life through what they are sharing with us.  When we receive people how they are and make a conscious decision to afford them the honor of wherever it is they are coming from, the honor that will come to us from them as well as the rest of the world will be more than sufficient.  We will find ourselves in the greatest place of honor when we serve and submit to even those who haven’t necessarily proven their “value” as we might falsely interpret it.  It’s not always an easy choice, but it is a choice and it is a choice worth making.

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