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Monday, June 3, 2013

To Judge Or Not To Judge, That is the Question.


We are all so quick to rush to judgment without knowing all the facts.  But really, it's human nature, no?  Don't we all find ourselves in that place far too often?

I remember very early in my college education, I took a class in philosophy, I think it was  ethics, so the instructor taught us the basics and we looked at things like logic and fallacies, all that jazz most of which I vaguely remember because it was almost 20 years ago but never-the-less, one thing he said stuck with me.

Like many of my fellow students trying to find ourselves, we were all asking the big questions in life, and one question in particular seemed to recur with a high level of frequency.

"Who am I to judge?" We would all ponder, trying to be cool and free, young liberals with psuedo hippie ideals about freedom and love...

His response, "It's your job to judge."

So this teacher lectured us on the reasons why we should and if memory serves, he basically said it was not only human nature, but our obligation.  Of course, this just opened the floodgates for more questions, at least for me.  Old adages like "Don't judge a book by it's cover" really do seem to hold genuine meaning, and although cliche this one holds merit because we are all guilty of making assumptions based on what we see without knowing anything at all about a person.

Don't be mistaken, I am talking about people here, not books, books we can judge all we want.  I mean, how many times have you bought a book based on the cover only to be disappointed with the innards, but I digress.

Seriously, I sit here in the Corner Bakery (using the free wifi and enjoying a few cups of coffee) with a huge black eye.  I mean, it's ridiculous.  It has turned varying shades of violet and has developed a lovely yellow Saturn like rim, really spectacular colors if I do say so myself.  Now, I KNOW people are wondering what happened, how could they not.  It's the purple elephant on my face that screams volumes.  Me being me, well I feel compelled to tell people the truth because of this fear of JUDGMENT.  But yet, no one has asked.  It's instead, they sit and try not to stare, wondering what happened, likely assuming the worst-I am a beaten woman-and those of you who know me are laughing right now because the truth is I am just the idiot who walked into a pole at a sporting goods store.  Yep, that's it.  Glamorous, isn't it?  People keep suggesting that I come up with a better story but I just can't.  The OCD won't let me lie.

Perhaps judgment is the reason I say and do what I do.  I can be honest to a fault and I try to live my life as an open book.  That being said, I sometimes have a tendency to over-share, perhaps stick my nose into others' business.  But the truth is, it comes from a place of compassion and empathy, it really does.

I spent a good deal of my teenage years judging others based on their clothes, their looks, their cars.  All of this was material bullshit, yet I was judged the exact same way.  It's the nature of the beast, and by beast I mean teenager.  But, as I grew into an adult with a little more perspective on life, I realized that all this judging was doing more harm than good.  "Judging" was really more "comparing" and that for me, was really unhealthy.  Listen, I am not saying you (or I) can't have an opinion, that's perfectly fine.  What I am saying is the way in which we share that opinion deserves a little more forethought and the use of a filter than many of us consider.

It all goes back to basic human kindness and understanding.  Judgment is what gets us into all sorts of trouble, isn't it?  Let me share another example.  This past weekend, we had a family vacation, a much needed respite from our daily lives and a great time to reconnect with one another.  While sitting in the pool outside the restaurant, a man walked by with an enormous tattoo on his stomach that read "TRUST NO BITCH," just like that.  In capital letters.  He did not look happy.  Now, I'm not gonna lie, Chris and I had a bit of a laugh and made a few comments about my black eye and that Chris should point to me, make a fist and smile at the guy.  But, really if we look at the core of that tattoo, really think of its meaning, this poor dude was clearly broken, at his very core.  At least that's what I suspect but hey, maybe I am wrong.  The truth is, he was not the kind of guy who seemed like he wanted to share the impetus of that ink so I left it alone.  Have I rushed to judgment?  Perhaps.

I think what I am saying is this: We are all making judgments, well I think comparisons really, every day.  We are all looking at one another and seeing how we stack up.   It's inevitable and unavoidable, but let me make this one suggestion.  The next time you find yourself judging someone else, try to remember that everyone has a story.  Try to find that part of yourself that feels compassion and empathy and although it may be challenging, I promise that you might start to feel a bit better about your own insecurities and areas where you fall short.  What do you think?  Is that something worth striving toward?

To quote Sir Paul McCartney and his fine words of wisdom,

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

So instead of judgment, maybe all you need is love...