Judgement part 2

So we are forced to make up our minds about people: to judge them. Perhaps forced is too strong. But most of us feel there is no alternative to acting this way, and we might as well be forced. We certainly feel forced. There are saintly people are out there, and they don’t judge anyone, they aren’t swayed by how a person dresses or their accent or where they live, and the rest of us must defer to these good and patient people, as, for the rest of us, it’s just too hard to be like that all the time. The rest of us can see the worth in an unlikely candidate only sometimes, and when that worth is demonstrated we congratulate ourselves; we congratulate ourselves because we saw what was there but was partially hidden, and we give ourselves a pat on the back for not missing something true and real in another individual, and we also congratulate ourselves for getting it right – as though we have solved a clue in quite a tricky puzzle set for us by the universe. This last type of congratulation is characterised by a strong sense of pride, and in this sense it is a feeling we experience for ourselves much more than the person we chose not to judge. It’s actually a selfish thing, but we’re all a bit selfish, in a way, aren’t we?

We judge then, although we know we shouldn’t, and we know it can backfire if we do.

Judging others is a source of anguish for me. It’s mild. I don’t mean when I decide a beggar’s story doesn’t seem terribly convincing and therefore give them nothing for their grandmother’s operation it tears my heart in two. What I do mean is that I endeavour to be aware when I am judging people and wonder what could be going on in their lives to make them appear unappealing. It isn’t a person’s fault if they are mentally ill or poor or sick, for example, and while I might not want to become friends with a stranger who needs someone to talk to, because I don’t really want to become friends with anyone at all at the moment, thanks, it is a worthwhile reminder that just because a person smells and yells incoherently and demands money from hurrying commuters that does not mean they are a bad person either. They have problems. We all do. And it’s unfair to judge most people most of the time.

It’s also worth remembering that some of us have more advantages than others, and judging is often a process of thought and action which those in a superior position are able to do, and those they judge are often the marginalised and the weak. We judge those below us. And that’s not fair either.

And yet, knowing all this, it is natural to form opinions about people based on how they appear and how they appear to live their lives. It is wrong to decide a person is inferior because they are not, or do not appear to be, intelligent. They may not have had the opportunity to complete their schooling or they may never have had their intellect stimulated. And if some people are not as bright as others, well, that’s just the way it is. Not everyone is good-looking and charming and smart and drives a shiny sports car. In fact, most people don’t. Likewise, most people aren’t urbane and sophisticated and worldly – in fact, the terms urbane, sophisticated, and worldly were coined to describe the qualities possessed by some people, but not by most people, as, by definition, almost no-one is actually like that. Not all the time anyway.

If we think of the sort of people who routinely experience trouble with the law, kids who spend time in detention, and adults who are known to the local constabulary, for small things mostly, but with real criminal records, it is easy to pinpoint disadvantages that such people have had to endure. In most cases formal education is lacking, as was money when growing up, and family structures have been fractured or strained. These things must be understood, and there is a degree to which the petty thief, for example, should be pitied and helped, for he or she is a victim too.

But we make choices – only some individuals who grow up in depressed neighbourhoods will turn to crime – and perhaps this is an area where judgement may truly be allowed to exist. As a bit of a bleeding heart I think all people should be given a chance, man. There are circumstances you just don’t know when you judge lightly and then dismiss. But in the realm of choices, when people can decide for themselves whether to rob old ladies or do something law-abiding, it must be stated that those who live a law-abiding life are better people than those who choose the easier, criminal path. Of course, we must take into account that a life of crime is practically unavoidable for some, when no-one will give you an honest job, for example, and it must be very difficult for many people in situations of this sort. (For example: when does hanging out with your mates, occasionally doing something a little bit antisocial, because you are bored, and it’s funny, become a group of petty criminals, and when does it become a gang?)

It is in this area of personal choice – the choice being a moral one about doing the right thing or the wrong thing by the rest of society – that judgement can be a useful, rather than a shameful, thing. Anyone can be having a bad day. Anyone can have any number of reasons why they may not be taken seriously and treated with respect by others. But when a person chooses to treat the rest of society without respect then that is a bad thing, and in my view that person is a bad person.

Published in: on June 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://turdenmeier.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/judgement-part-2/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: