Recently it came up again. The question of judging others or the question of how we might keep from being judgmental.
It’s one of those things that reminds one of washing dishes or doing the laundry. It just never stays done, yet we keep doing it; keep asking as if there were an answer. This may be a perfect world, as far as planets go. We humans on the other hand are still very much a work in progress. Perfection, like any other ideal we can conceive, exists mostly in theory.
So if I ask you how I might learn to be non-judgmental of the actions or behavior of others, what am I really asking? Some would say, the impossible. But seriously, there are several interesting things about the question of judging, or being judgmental.
Before we consider them, however, I think it’s important to realize we are humans. And one thing is certain when it comes to being human. It’s just the nature of the beast to be judgmental. It’s not a feature that can be removed from the animal without also removing our humanity.
So the question of judging others shouldn’t be about avoiding it, but rather understanding it and further learning to control this innate tendency we all share.
Christians are a good example of what happens when we try to pretend we have become non-judgmental. The Holy Bible tells us that we should avoid judging others least we ourselves be judged. It assures us that we need not judge because our Father in Heaven sees everything and knows everything and is in fact, as our Creator and the One True God, the only entity in the know universe qualified to judge us.
So Christians don’t need to be judgmental. And they aren’t either. They just leave the judging to God. They do feel the need to point out on occasion that when one dies, God will at some point judge that person and decide if their soul is saved or if it will be damned forever and ever in the eternal fires of Hell.
And Christians do tend to offer advise from time to time on how others may be doing in the eyes of God. And they do now and again tend to second guess just how God most likely will judge such and such a person when the time does come. But every good Christian knows God is the absolute final judge. They wouldn’t think of judging anyone themselves.
Christians are the exception to the rule. In all other humans, being judgmental is as natural as thinking or pretending or dreaming. So with this in mind we shouldn’t ask how to keep from judging, but rather how to perfect this normal trait.
We learn from birth to judge things. Some things we find good and others not good and still other things so unimportant as to not matter enough to judge at all. Some of us learn to love chocolate and hate the smell of skunks, for example. The things we love become good and the things we hate become bad. White fluffy clouds on the other hand may not be important enough to our immediate needs to either love or hate.
For little ones, it all a matter of learned behavior. So as we grow older and learn more and more words we tend to shape our likes and dislikes around what our parents and other role models seem to like or dislike. If we are the children of overly judgmental parents who also border on the hypocritical, we may well become the same.
As wise adults we are supposed to finally arrive at the happy state of mental maturity where we can see and appreciate the many sides that are extant in every issue. However, this too, may well be a theoretical state, or at least one reached by very few people in the so called real world. Logic tells us that the individual differences of human beings demand varied and multiple perceptions of any given thing or ideal by any given person or persons. But logic is for the most part ignored or repressed when it come to personal relations and the judging that is an integral part of human interactions.
So what are you going to do? We live in a world awash with judgmental people who have the power and the free will to act on their judgments. Should they be so inclined, carrying out what they perceive to be just punishment on those who do not measure up to their personal morals or ideals is also a real possibility.
It is not a matter of not judging least we ourselves be judged. In today’s world people demand the right to judge others, yet are at the same time shocked to find they themselves are being judged by all others as well! There is no logic unless it is flawed logic.
So what are you going to do? If you are like most people, you will do the same as always. If you are like most people you will never stop to ask any questions about judging others or not. Most people are like the steel ball in an old fashion Pinball Machine. They roll along whatever course lays open before them, closed inside a tight shell. They get flicked here and flapped over their. Good fortune runs up the score now and bad fortune tumbles it down later. Like the ball in the machine, life is but a series of reactions until one finally lays down for the last time and stares off into space, quietly slipping away and wondering if it all really meant anything after all.
So what are you going to do? If you aren’t like most people you might stop and take stock of who you are and what life means to you. Perhaps you might decide to take more control of things. Perhaps you might come to realize you are a judgmental person and wonder if that is a good thing or not. Perhaps you might ask someone for their opinion.
If I were the one who did the asking or even if I were the one asked, there some important realizations that should happen to make the questioning worthwhile.
We are judgmental animals. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself. How could be not be such? By being judgment we form important opinions about other people and their actions. But the process only works if we are willing to allow others their right to be judgmental as well.
While we have the right to be judgmental, we absolutely do not have the right to criticize or condemn anyone else based solely on the judgments we may have passed about them.
While we have the right to be judgmental, we absolutely must remain open-minded and understand that we are not perfect beings. We often measure others using guesswork or some other sense we feel is correct or just. We use a lot of estimating in our judgments of others. We also tend to throw in at least a little imagination as well.
When you come right down to it, we humans can rarely ever be absolutely sure of anything, unless it is our own fallibility. We certainly do have the right to judge others, but only if we are willing to accept the fact that we are really lousy judges of anyone; even ourselves.
Once we begin to see how truly ignorant we humans really are, we can finally find it in our hearts to give others the benefit of the doubt. We are all of us just people. We all share the same hopes and dreams, fears and terrors, and the same longings for a place of peace where there are others who really understand how lost and lonely we really are.
As humans we will most likely always have a strong tendency to be judgmental of others. It’s just a part of our nature. So it’s really not a question of judging. Not at all. There’s something else that is also very much a part of our nature; something that is infinitely harder than merely avoiding judgment in the first place.
The real question we should all be asking is how can we learn to forgive.
PS. This one’s for Marie
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