It’s a reflex for almost all of us.  We see someone and instantly create a story of who they are and what they’re like, even before we’re introduced to them.

As an American living and working in the Middle East, I’ve learned that it’s essential to suspend judgement when you see someone who doesn’t look like you (or someone who doesn’t look like you think they should look).

I’m challenged to suspend my judgement of others daily.  It’s a skill that doesn’t come naturally.  Our brains crave story creation, even when few facts are on the table.  Yet that story we create about someone in our minds is the opposite of suspended judgement; it’s premature judgement, more commonly known as “prejudice.”

Our prejudice causes us to laugh at someone we see across the street, or run from someone who looks like this:

Jon and an Arab Sheikh - Jordan Tour

Wait to get the facts before drawing conclusions.  People are human, with hopes and hurts and a history, personal and collective, that has made them who they are, not who you assume them to be.