GRATITUDE – a short story

Andrew turned slowly. Myrtle sat still, her body crushed, her mouth half open, frozen in time.

His nostrils flared from the acrid odor of slowly swirling cornstarch powder and he flinched from the sporadically pirouetting snowflakes.

He turned his head back forward slowly, neck bobbing as cold air slapped his face. He could feel the backs of his eyes.

Andrew drew in a ragged breath, sensing the cacophony as it competed with a throbbing ribcage trying to blindly escape his chest.

He shakily touched his face, the backs of his fingers resisting the inflated airbag pushing up against them. Below the airbag his right foot slowly moved up and down his left calf, then in reverse.

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Judgement vs. Assessment

Judgement is a symptom of a lack of an intelligent thought process.

Assessment takes time and critical-thinking skills.

Judgement is a knee-jerk reaction based on a superficial scan of limited information. It leads to drawing half-baked assumptions and worse, acting as though those assumptions were true.

Persons who tend towards judgement are usually those who 1) have led relatively insular lives and carefully keep it that way, for fear of the unknown and 2) tend not to clarify their assumptions, instead preferring to seek – any – validation, however flimsy, to support their half-baked assumptions thus maintaining their preferred illusions. Negative questions are posed, if at all, such as, “you don’t like punk rock, do you?”, forcing the person being asked to have to ‘defend’ themselves against a whole slew of pre-conceived notions, regardless of whether their answer to the negative question is yes or no.

Assessment, on the other hand is the intake of information and the setting aside of it, until more information is presented or can be drawn out by way of posing positive questions. If the same question is asked positively i.e. “do you like punk rock”, the person being asked can simply answer with the facts. They don’t feel judged or feel like they have to ‘explain’ their answer because it doesn’t match the answer the questioner was expecting. Careful that the positive questions aren’t asked with squinted eyes and changed voice-modulations, because then, despite the wording, they end up being a negative question.

To assess i.e. to be patient, to cross-reference, to accept that others have life-experiences that are beyond your own imaginings and that the permutations and combinations are endless, and that someone may be having a bad day (or life) and that their odd behavior has nothing to do with you, to avoid presuming to ‘know’ someone and making assumptions – and should any crop up – to first clarify them with honest positive questions and communication, is to be mature, intelligent and quite frankly, more civilized.

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