Sometimes people make choices for a variety of reasons entirely outside of my knowledge and understanding. Yet somehow, I still manage to be dismissive and occasionally derogatory.
What I have come to realize is that there are numerous reasons for making apparent bad decisions. It is easy, though often not correct, to dismiss these supposed mistakes as character flaws, without taking the time to fully understand the decision-making process.
For example, I am usually quick to point out the folly of gadgets. Odd, that, for a gadget geek. So many gadgets are merely ego purchases, bought because the are “cool”. Obviously a waste of money. A smartphone serves no practical purpose for an average person, right? What if that person’s life is so difficult to manage that a calendar sync including both spouses and multiple calendars will allow a family to make sure every kid gets to every activity on time? Or he has a side business that is easier to manage with ubiquitous email? Or even a strong urge to limit the number of items carried every day? A phone/mp3 player is fewer gadgets than separate appliances.
Another example is a close friend who started running several months ago, to be met with questions of why somebody would run without being chased. It’s easier to play on the internet or ride a bike, right? And the special running shoes? Silly. Except running is cheaper than biking and running shoes beat knee surgery any day. Running on the street is more effective than a treadmill, since you can’t step off after running two miles away from your house.
So here I sit, a runner with a crackberry and plate full of crow.
“Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” Indeed.