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Don't Judge This Post

November 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Hey readers!

Thanks again for commenting on my last post, it was really great to hear from all of you!

I thought I would remark on a random cultural trend that I find interesting.  As you may have guessed by now, it's the prevalence of the phrase, "Don't judge!"

From what I can tell, many people say, "Don't judge," jokingly when they are doing something which they feel embarrassed about.  Alternatively, they use the phrase when they disapprove of someone's opinion about something.  Their intentions can be good in that they want the "judge" to view others as whole people and to not create a (negative) opinion based on one aspect of the person.  But is "Don't judge" what we really want to say?  Is judgment inherently negative and/or wrong?  I don't think so.  If we didn't form any opinions about anyone based on a critical analysis of their actions, how would we ever interact with them in a meaningful way?  How would we sincerely compliment someone if we did not take the time to consider the effects of their actions and how that relates to who they are?  How would we determine that there are things that people should and should not do (for example, "judging")?  How would we decide who to make our role models and mentors?  I think that, "don't judge", in some ways suggests, "don't think" or "don't care". 

In addition to not being inherently negative, judging is also impossible to escape.  We all judge each other based on our actions as well as (more unfortunately) on things we can't control.  I think that to deny that reality is dangerous, because it removes the huge responsibility of having to judge well.  What I mean is that--given the fact that we all judge--the task must be to learn how to judge in a way that is constructive and truthful.  We must judge in a way that is multi-faceted for each individual, that takes into account our own shortcomings and lack of insight, and that is rooted in love for the other person.  When we simply say that we don't judge, it keeps us from having this responsibility.

Finally, if one is afraid of the judgment of others, perhaps those others are not people worth worrying about.  If you are judged by someone whom you respect, then chances are they are someone who does love you and who sees you in a multi-faceted way.  If this is the case, then their judgment will probably be encouraging or helpful to you.  If you are judged by someone whom you don't respect, then you shouldn't take much from that.  Of course, this is easier said than done, and it doesn't excuse the actions of someone who judges unfairly and/or destructively.  But it's something to consider.

Of course, most people have some understanding of the things that I am saying.  When they say, "Don't judge" it is either in jest or with the subtext, "Don't judge unfairly, or in a small-minded way."  But I think that our words not only are defined by but also define our thought processes, and therefore, it is important to examine how we say what we say. 

Prospies, when you're visiting schools, judge them.  That is, "form an opinion... through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premise" (Merriam Webster's definition of "to judge").  Try to find out what the people are like who go there, and who have gone there.  Determine if those people align with what you want/are able to do.  As people, we tend to become more like the people that surround us.  Find out what various communities exist at those schools, and where you could fit in to those communities.

What do you think of this idea?  Comment!




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