Different Folks. I heard a piece on NPR this morning about a play entitled "Well", by someone named Lisa Kron. Ms. Kron makes a point about other people that is arresting. She said something like "Other people aren't you with different life experiences." The statement may be a little hyperbolic, but the idea instructs me profoundly.
The most immediate point where I am instructed is in the area of judging other people. "Well", I think as I raise my eyebrow at the conduct or statement of another, "I certainly wouldn't [say that] [do that] [handle the situation that way]." This is a common topic of conversations that I have with myself about other people. It makes me feel immensely better about myself, even though it is at the expense of how I feel about the other person. Certainly it keeps me focused on myself. And, after all, isn't this what I am all about? That is, all about myself?
Thinking of the other person as "you with different life experiences" is the riskiest when one is dealing with family members. One is apt to think that, of all the people in the world who are most likely to be "you with different life experiences", those people are your kin, especially your children. Now we really can crank up the judgmental apparatus when we deal with them.
This doesn't mean that one's advice and counsel to friends and loved ones are not important and should not be freely given. (The children certainly know, as now you do, dear reader, that I'm certainly free with mine!) (Indeed, we sometimes have a duty to give such advice and counsel and, sometimes, give it quite forcefully.) It simply means that we need to remain at all times conscious of the other's otherness and to remember that the other has a "father in heaven", a counselor, who has special plans for that other one and to whom that other one must ultimately account (as each of us must for himself, ultimately).