photo by qimono

“You shouldn’t judge!” One of many battle cries of this current generation. However, considering recent events involving Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and, most recently, Matt Lauer, there sure does seem to be a lot of judging going on. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying the judgments against those and more are misplaced. I merely use them as an example to say that we judge people all the time. It is impossible not to judge others when we feel they are wrong, and it is equally unlikely to live out this idea without a proper framework.

Think about these questions:

  • Who set the standard that “You shouldn’t judge!” is the best way to live for everyone?
  • What if someone doesn’t want to live by that motto? Are they wrong?
  • Have you voted for local or state legislation recently that was divisive and controversial? If so, how do you feel that those who disagree will have to abide by the decision no matter which way it goes?

Whether we realize it or not, we judge people by telling them they shouldn’t judge. Let’s quickly break down what we are saying when we tell someone, “You shouldn’t judge.” First, I am making a judgment that they are judgmental. I have thought about a particular action and decided whether or not I believe it to be right. Second, I move from a judgment to prescribing (or telling) how that individual should live. This comes with the word “shouldn’t.” Essentially what I am telling them is, “I do not feel judging others is a good thing, so you should not do that.” I have taken my morality and forced it on them, which is another battle cry of this generation (“Don’t force your morality on me!”). This is what we call a self-defeating statement, meaning that when we turn a statement on itself, it collapses. If I am doing the thing, I am telling other people not to do that makes me a hypocrite, which is another judgment we hear from people all the time!

What now? Is there any way we can correctly live out the judgments we make every day? Well, yes! As I said before, we make judgments every day, even about people. What we need to keep in mind is that we cannot prescribe something to someone that we merely feel is right; it must be the truth; otherwise, we lead people astray. Here’s what I mean: If someone needs directions to a specific address, it does no good to say to them, “I feel if you turn left then you’ll make it.” Either they should turn left or not; feelings have nothing to do with it.

This leads us back to the sexual assault allegations made against so many recently. It would do no good to call them out because we feel they did something wrong. In our heart of hearts, we know what they did was wrong. Again, feelings have nothing to do with it. I’m not saying emotions don’t play a part, but there is a standard of morals that we can point to and judge them correctly. That makes all the difference. If there is no standard of morality beyond personal feelings or government legislation, then we find our cry for justice collapsing back on itself.

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