It is an often-quoted saying from Mother Theresa that goes something like, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” This week, I wanted to see if it was possible to go 7 days without judging other people. I actually attempted to do this last week, but had to call it quits by Tuesday night; I had simply deemed things “weird” or let others’ opinions shape my view of something/someone.
I thought this week might go somewhat differently, as I was able to experience failure last week and reflect for a few days on how I could try to be different during this upcoming week.
Unfortunately, I think I might be ready to judge this experiment as impossible!
I don’t know what exactly the problem is…I don’t consider myself a judgmental person, but as I went through the week, I became hyper-aware of how many little judgments creep into our minds every day.
* I watched this news story and was critical:
* I got cut off getting on the highway and almost subconsciously noted what a terrible driver s/he must be.
* Reading about the 17 year old girl from Arapahoe High School who died 8 days after the school shooting and judging the shooter as a horrible human being.
I also noted how many judgments I made against myself.
* That girl at the gym on the treadmill with the PERFECT BODY – “Ugh, Why can’t I dedicate all the hours that she OBVIOUSLY spends at the gym?!”
* Watching a teacher deftly handle a problem student that I could not get to follow my directions.
As I’ve been reflecting on all of these circumstances, I had to ponder the very act of judging, in and of itself. This is a pretty valued skill in our culture – it is the second highest level of thinking in Bloom’s Taxonomy, which teachers use to make sure we are engaging students in different modes of thinking (not just rote/memory sequences). It takes a lot of skill to develop the ability to see both sides of something, or two opposing views. I also think its highly valued in the western hemisphere as a whole – Immanuel Kant wrote a whole Critique of Judgment on the different types of judgments and what they exactly entail. This serves as a cornerstone for our modern aesthetics.
I suppose that some judgments are “OK,” and in some instances might be necessary for survival. If you don’t judge that a driver is about to smack into you, that could end really badly. If you don’t judge that a man holding a gun in front of you is SUPER ANGRY and will totally let that trigger go, that could also end very badly.
In the end, I suppose that these are judgments and evaluations of peoples’ behaviors, not who they are as human beings. The types of judgments that are “not OK” are those that form a conclusion on whether or not they are good people. Or, more bluntly, whether or not they fit our definition of normalcy. This might explain why these judgments are so instantaneous and quick to form (they really are subconscious until you spend a week being hyper-aware!) – our culture has just been so engrained into us since birth that it’s easy for these quick conclusions to be crystallized.
I think that not paying attention to these judgments or not realizing how quickly they can impact your perception of another person or not realizing how the judgments you make public can affect others’ opinions of another person can have dire consequences. We may deem the shooter at Arapahoe High a horrible human being for his actions, but could his peers passing less judgment on him throughout his life have prevented that shooting? I want to be crystal clear that I am not supporting the shooter’s choice, but rather am noticing that we have no idea how our judgments will impact other people, or how our judgments that are made public will impact other peoples’ opinions of another person.
Who was I to roll my eyes at the girl who dresses only in Victorian clothing? This coming from me, who has a probably-could-be-clinically-diagnosed-problem of really, really liking to touch old things (I’m seriously worse than a kindergartner in a museum. I have to make sure to wear pockets to keep my hands in when I visit museums/old places). Her happiness is something to be envied, and she’s probably way greener and financially well off than I’ll ever be! (Crapskies, there goes another self-judgment). On top of it, I felt terribly judged in both middle and high school – why was I perpetuating this cycle on other people, on people that I would never meet?
Could we all not try, just a little bit harder, to realize that we are all walking these weird, windy, bumpy, ugly-but-beautiful paths in life? And that judging another person’s walk and path does not bring us any more happiness, nor does it bring them any joy?
My weekly experiment might have failed miserably, but it gave me a pretty new outlook on the consequences of judgments on both other people and myself.
Other notable firsts:
* I had never seen the movie Pitch Perfect before!
* I had never attended an elementary music concert (besides my own when I was in 5th grade).
* I had never heard of the word “salubrious” before. It means healthy, not run-down, pleasant.
* I had never seen something be able to float by balloons before. It was like the movie “Up” came to life at Mr. Relyea’s retirement party!
* I had never met Laurie before. She belongs to Amanda and Eric from band camp and is a super sweet peanut who doesn’t mind getting passed around from person to person. Can’t wait to hang with her at camp!
* I had never misjudged packing up food at a restaurant before. I had half a bowl of chili left, and I asked to get it packed up without realizing just how small the bowl was. I ate the 5 bites of left overs right when I got home. hahaha.