Judgement – you can use it, make it, form it, exercise it, pass it.
In a court of law, judgement is made daily. It’s legally binding and the ensuing obligation placed on the recipient can have long term repercussions.
It can have a negative connotation as well and there are quite a few people out there whose lives are defined by it. I’ve known people who use it daily on others. From the passing look we give the man or woman on the street, to the vitriol that is found on social media, judgements fly with no consideration for the person receiving it. There are many who don’t even realise they are doing it.
Ah dear readers, I can hear you from here: what is this blog but another judgement! Fear not; whilst I write on this subject, I am the first to confess that I am not immune and have found myself passing judgement on many occasions. Lately, I’ve tried to catch myself when I do so and in my kindest, most patient voice, gently remind myself to stop.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the world we live in today. Is it simply part and parcel of this curse we call “being human” that we assign a negative lens to this ability we have? Judgement is important. That 1.9kg mass of jelly we carry around in our heads has a large part at the front that purportedly separates us from the apes. The pre-frontal cortex is defined in part by our ability to use judgement to reason and deduce. Stephen Hawking’s pre-frontal probably weighs a bit more than the average Joe’s and it’s also fair to say that there are quite a few humans whose pre-frontal weighs considerably less (including a certain current US presidential candidate).
We use our judgement to make decisions, take a risk, or draw sensible conclusions. Look it up in the dictionary and you’ll find synonyms that include reason, logic, common sense, wisdom. Used, dare I say, judiciously, it is a great thing. Where it’s not so great is when we use it to define others by our own prejudices.
The other really interesting thing is how often we pass judgement on ourselves.
My completely non-scientific, non-evidentiary view is that this seems worse for women than it is for men. One of my friends once described the difference between men and women as thus – women get up in the morning, look at the mirror and go “Sigh, better do something with this before I head out the door” whereas men get up in the morning, look at the mirror and go “Wow, you fabulous sex-god. What a handsome beast. Go get ‘em!”
I’m not convinced it’s that simple. I’ve known people, men and women, who are so full of self-loathing that it seeps from their pores in a vile concoction that could be mistaken for simple body odour were it not for the accompanying venom that pours from their mouths. I kid you not – this putrid scent was a physical manifestation of their innate hatred of themselves and in their disgust, they created a poisonous trail of destruction in their wakes.
I long for a world where we live without judgement of ourselves and each other. Where every time we turn on the TV or computer or radio, the words and images we hear and see convey tolerance and peace. Where acceptance and humanity are the lens through which we treat ourselves and each other.
Until then, I am trying to practice what I preach.
(C) Adrian Bell