“Never judge a person.”
We have all heard this phrase. We are bombarded by it in social media, popular memes, sit coms, our friends keep repeating this and even our judgmental relatives have started parroting the same fashionable advice.
Although I agree with the accepting spirit which informs the thought, but to follow it as a life-rule is absurd.
All of us have to judge if we can trust a person or not. We have to figure out if the other human being is friendly or hostile to have a meaningful relationship.
If you don’t, you may find yourself lying unconscious on an unknown street mugged, raped or even murdered.
Judgment is necessary for survival. It’s a life skill.
But there is a world of difference between judging and pre-judging.
The latter is about presumptions, prejudices and stereotypes.
It’s not based on the knowledge about the person per se, but about the ideas and formulas one has already imposed on them without checking if they are true or not.
Commenting on a person’s style on the basis of the clothes they wear is judging.
Labeling a person ‘slut’, ‘gay’ or ‘stupid’ on the basis of their clothes is pre-judging because there is no direct relationship whatsoever between the labels and the clothes.
Most of the arguments I hear against judging people is that every judgment is subjective.
It is. So what?
It doesn’t mean that we don’t judge people; it simply means we don’t treat our judgments as divine, permanent and universal Truths.
We keep the possibility of being wrong open and modify our judgments when we actually are.
I agree that we often don’t know from where people come from, their personal history, their internal struggles, demons and anxieties. We can never really know a person completely. We get to see only a part of their lives.
And so we should always be aware of this and remember that our judgments are only about that part of a person which we get to know and not their whole being.
I may criticize a person for having anti-liberal, conservative views about individual choice. It doesn’t mean that I see that person as a monster.
The judgment will only be about certain parts of her ideology. There is no reason why other aspects of her being won’t pleasantly surprise me.
The need for judgment is very clear. If we don’t judge terrorists and rapists we don’t have any grounds to stop them and we end up with a fucked society.
However, always judging other people for the sake of it is foolish, time-consuming and exhausting. Not everything is necessarily right or wrong, good or bad – there is a neutral zone when people are simply different.
Judging a person for having different tastes in music, clothes and ice creams will simply be stupid and is often not needed.
I firmly believe that our judgments should help us figure out people, life and ourselves. But if it makes us confused and miserable then it becomes counterproductive and cumbersome.
Lastly, to end with a cliché, I also believe that we should mostly judge ourselves first before judging others.