HeathCliff Rothman tells the story:
“I was sitting at a café, people watching.
And aware of the running dialogue in my head.
Critiquing people’s clothes and behavior.
Making judgments. Issuing mental report cards.
And I thought: Stop.
Stop being so judgmental. Stop acting like your values and ideas are definitive.
You’re just one person, same as they. Who says your way is better – or that you’re better than they are?
I wanted to be less judgmental. I wanted to stop acting like my values and ideas were definitive, like I knew better, was better.
I just wanted to be a better person – relearn how to see people, from a place where everyone has the right to be and act and dress with the same right as me. To understand that we’re all equal.
After that, I made a conscious effort to monitor when I was being judgmental. When I felt the impulse, I tried to stop it, to pay attention, to not go in that direction. It’s like a new muscle that you’re exercising – to PUT THE BRAKE ON. Learn more humility, not automatically judge. And then saying in my head to myself: “DON’T JUDGE. THEY HAVE THE SAME RIGHT TO BE EXACTLY AS THEY ARE.”
That’s how it started. It was my personal journey to be less judgmental, to learn to respect in some fundamental way, everyone’s exact right to their own personhood. To learn humility, in approaching others. There’s a spectrum of difference, obviously – from thinking it, to saying it, to being rude and bullying, to being violent. But the common link is being judgmental, unloving, superior.
It’s a process for every one of us in our lives, from the moment we’re born, to learn to love, to respect, to learn humility. That’s the ultimate wisdom.
The Mission? It’s simple.
Raising awareness that EVERYONE is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be allowed to be exactly who they are – including ourselves.
Elementary, middle, high schools, universities: dedicated outreach with toolkits and actions, from #IAM PhotoBooth and VideoWall, encouraging kids to understand that they can be WHO THEY ARE, AS THEY ARE; the “Letting Go of Judgment Tree” and “Act of Kindness Tree”; the “24-Hour Challenge to Not Judge”; and other actions
Official City, State and Country Proclamations and Resolutions: A focused outreach to city council, mayoral and other government leaders, at a local and national level, using a pre-existing template of wording articulating dignity and respect for all its citizens as they are, and enumerating the basic delineations, from gender, to body capability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion and so on.
Ongoing Social Media Campaign: We harness a large and growing social media presence between our Facebook hub, our website, Twitter, Instagram, Twitter and so on – creating a robust, interactive presence and forum – all focusing on individual stories as the prism to highlight that we each are on our own journey, and have our own value and identity, not to be defined by anyone else.
And Everyone Matters Day!
The annual milestone day – April 2 – the 1st Wednesday in April – when cities, states, schools, and global citizens in communities and online can collectively affirm the dignity and respect each of us is entitled to, and to take a moment to appreciate others and ourselves for who we are, as we are.