Monday, 30 November 2009
I honestly think that judgement never helps anyone and yet I hear it all the time. I hear people say things like:
“Well she just tries too hard.”
“You know him, he's useless, he can’t plan anything.”
“She’s rubbish at communicating what she means.”
“He’s a bad parent.”
“Well what do you expect from people like that?”
“She's so vain."
“They spoil their kids.”
‘You don’t like golf do you?’
I think judgement sometimes comes out of not valuing difference and diversity. Of course we understand the way we do things ourselves, we understand (and are tuned into) our own values, our own lifestyle choices, our own preferences. And of course, we are very likely to believe that our own choices are right, which can therefore mean we might believe any choice that is not the same as our own, is possibly wrong -especially if all this judgement is coming straight from our subconscious.
We all have different talents, values and motivations. This needs to be celebrated - not judged.
In training school governors (often a more diverse bunch of people in terms of attitudes than teachers), I used to do an activity called, ‘Is it wrong?’ I would ask participants to sort a selection of potentially perceived ‘wrongdoings’ (e.g. taking someone’s life, abortion, lying, adultery, taking drugs, sex outside marriage, stealing, swearing, working on a Sunday, homosexuality, eating meat etc) into three categories:
1) always wrong,
2) never wrong, and
The first thing that always struck me was the variation in people's willingness to judge. Some people would set to immediately and confidently sort all the cards in no time. Frequently these people had far more cards in the ‘always wrong’ section. Others were more woolly about it and would put more cards in the ‘depends’ section. More ‘liberal’ people would put more of the cards into the ‘never wrong’ category.
I would go on to challenge some of the things people had placed in the ‘always wrong’ and ‘never wrong’ category. If someone had put homosexuality in ‘always wrong’ I would challenge them with a flurry of food for thought. If someone selected. ‘taking someone’s life’ as ‘always wrong’, I would talk about self-defence (and possibly euthanasia). If someone put abortion in the ‘never wrong’ category, I would ask them if it was still OK if someone had an abortion because they were expecting a girl and wanted a boy. Slowly, more cards would go into ‘it depends’ category.
This brings me to the point I would make in the training. We can possess our own individual moral framework that guides our decisions and behaviours and makes it clear what is right and what is wrong for us. (As long as we are on the right side of the law!) But is it right for us to impose the fine tuning of our own moral code onto others or to judge them if their values are different from ours - if the person's actions as a result of these values does no harm to the rights of others? For example, we might believe drinking alcohol is wrong - for us - but can we impose an alcohol ban on others? We might believe spending lots of money on clothes and make-up is wrong - for us - but can we really impose this on others? etc etc etc
The law outlines - in black and white terms – the things that are just ‘wrong’ - those things that years of civilisation has worked out are definitely not in anyone's best interests - like murder! And when it’s not clear whether what happened is wrong, a jury of twelve people spend a considerable amount of time deciding whether the action taken was wrong or not.
So really - who are we to judge?
P.S. I also find it ironic that religion frequently states that judgement is wrong, and yet I will find judgement sometimes comes straight out of religious doctrine. I'm glad to say, this is not always the case!