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I was once attacked on London Bridge station for giving money to a homeless person. Verbally attacked – not physically – harangued might be e better word. “Don’t you know”, she yelled, “that there is a shelter across the street for people who need help? You are irresponsible and just fuelling a drugs habit!”

I responded by saying that, as habits go, taking drugs might be less harmful to others than attacking someone for an act of compassion. It didn’t go down well.

I may be smug about my riposte, but I’m not proud of it (it was grammatically untidy, but then I had no time to prepare). And I’m not proud that I responded to a perceived attack in kind. I made a hasty judgement which prompted my response, rather than following my own advice by taking the opportunity to open a reasoned debate. Still, I had a train to catch.

I don’t doubt the other’s sincere attachment to their ideas, but when ideas become judgements they become tricky, and when judgements are used to condemn others they become abhorrent.

My own hasty judgement (that I was being attacked), produced retaliation not understanding, resistance not rapport.

 

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