shmirat haloshon - Become non-assuming
This post is dedicated in merit that Hershel ben Etya Sarah have a yeshuah.
What does being non-assuming mean to you? According to moi, it is the opposite of pretentious. People without pretension tend to avoid making snap judgments about others; they might even enjoy the process of getting the facts, hearing the other side. When faced with a scenario they might ask, "What happened here?"
People with this wide eyed, innocent take on events are uncanny in their ability to get others to open up. How? Since they themselves are empty of personal affront, opinion or hatred, others feel comfortable spilling their guts to them. This quality, by the way, also makes for great therapists, friends, parents, and even bosses.
The first time I came face to face with this character trait was at home. I noticed that one of my brothers was really good at getting along with my other siblings. Also, whenever there was a family squabble and he happened to be passing by, people stopped to smile at him. Since I'm sort of the black sheep of the clan one could understand my jealousy. His popularity status drove me nuts. On my end, most of the things that come out of my mouth warrant dirty looks and snarky comments, "Yes, we've heard you saying that already Elisheva." It was during one of these lovely pass times that I began to appreciate why everyone loved my brother. He walked into the room, saw two of us arguing and instead of blaming me, like all my siblings were wont to, he approached us, looked at each in turn and asked, "What happened?" Right then and there, my heart melted. Whether I was right or wrong, I felt like I had met someone who was willing to hear my side. That was enough to make me want to open up without being defensive and, yes, to eventually improve.
I've noticed, over the course of my twenty odd years, that non-assuming people are the ones most likely to make friends from all walks of life. Perhaps this is because, around them, the walls of differing philosophies and disagreements melt away. Not only that, they actually take an interest in subjects outside the political and racial spheres. Some of them might ask questions about one's personal tastes like, "How do you take your coffee?" or "What do you do in your free time?" to mention a few subjects we appreciate other people asking about. As far as I'm concerned, these guys can belong to any group they like (so long as they're good influences); I love them.
On the matter of disclaimers, as an aside, I want to add that there are people who cross the line of non-assuming by moving into the realm of naivety. This article does not advocate being a moron by taking the stance that everyone and everything is just fine all the time. If you walk in on people doing the wrong thing (insert evil deed here) for the third or fourth time, you can definitely make an assumption. That's not being pretentious nor can it be called judgy. Truth be told, judgment calls exist for a reason: if there is someone who has a history of, let's say, abusing alcohol, beating his/her spouse and stealing etc., the proper follow up would generally be to A. stay far far away B. warn others to stay far far away or C. call the police. I believe, "Innocent until proven guilty." an apt term for deciding when or when not to be unassuming or, to segue this topic into the subject of shmirat haloshon, when loshon hara needs to be spoken and vice versa.