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Old 07-19-2013, 11:23 PM   #1
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Passing Judgments

I've been meaning to discuss this here for a while, and I hope I fully explain what I hope we can discuss.

Basically, is it ever OK to judge anyone?

We've all heard how it's wrong to judge someone because we have no idea what is going through their heads or what they've been through. That is very true. I find people who judge like that are either ignorant or have their own problems.

But what about when someone does something very wrong? Like a mass murder or a child molester? Or even just a nasty person at work or the classmate who has such poor self-esteem no one talks that person? Are we wrong when we say or think, "wow, what a psycho/freak/asshole, etc."?

I've heard some people - usually conservatives - say while we shouldn't judge the person, we have a right to judge the action or situation. For example, if someone tells another that having pre-marital sex is wrong or quitting a boring job is stupid, is that being judgmental of the person or the situation?

Now, that last example shows how the lines can be blurred between judging a person and a situation. Often people think when someone criticizes what they are doing, they are criticizing the very essence of themselves. Also, I get the feeling when some say, "don't judge me", it sometimes sounds like they know what they are doing is wrong or crazy, but they don't want to admit it.

So, when is it OK to judge someone? Is it ever OK? When are we really judging a situation and not the person?

I can expand on those questions, but there would be too much. Besides, if this thread goes anywhere, those questions can come up on their own.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-20-2013, 02:22 PM   #2
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Hmmm.

OK....

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Old 07-20-2013, 03:41 PM   #3
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Patience, Pearl. Big questions like that take time to formulate worthwhile answers to.
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Old 07-20-2013, 04:23 PM   #4
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Oh OK. I thought the topic was boring or something like that.
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Old 07-20-2013, 08:12 PM   #5
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Hi Pearl,

I suppose there a different forms of judgement. I suppose I fall in line with your example - I don't think I can judge another person's heart or their relationship with God, but I do have a civic duty to "judge" actions (murder, rape, theft...etc). Of course, I hope/pray that we eventually develop methods to rehabilitate these people in a real, meaningful way.

Yes - I suppose those lines get blurred - and that is why it is so difficult for us to be citizens of heaven and earth at the same moment. But that doesn't mean that we don't keep striving for that ideal, non-judgmental attitude toward our brothers and sisters.
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Old 07-21-2013, 12:02 AM   #6
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Hi Pearl,

I suppose there a different forms of judgement. I suppose I fall in line with your example - I don't think I can judge another person's heart or their relationship with God, but I do have a civic duty to "judge" actions (murder, rape, theft...etc). Of course, I hope/pray that we eventually develop methods to rehabilitate these people in a real, meaningful way.

Yes - I suppose those lines get blurred - and that is why it is so difficult for us to be citizens of heaven and earth at the same moment. But that doesn't mean that we don't keep striving for that ideal, non-judgmental attitude toward our brothers and sisters.
Yeah it is difficult. If we want to set a murderer straight, we would have to say they're cold-blooded killers with no heart. That may be a judgment, but that is also the right kind of judgment in a way. Some murderers really don't care when they kill someone. It could be of some personal issue where they are able to detach themselves from empathy (kind of like Sean Penn's character in Dead Man Walking), or they are actually natural born psychopaths, which is a whole other issue.

But even if the person or situation being judged is not doing something criminal, is that all right? Let's say a friend is being aimless in life, or keeps getting into abusive relationships, or is becoming increasingly arrogant at work. Are we really judging them or the situation we're experiencing from them?

I think the issue here is accountability. There are many who can't seem to grasp personal responsibility, and if anyone points out what they are doing is wrong or unwise, they get snappy and say, "don't judge me!" But are we really doing that, or are we warning them of what they are doing? Guess it goes back to the question, "am I my brother's keeper?"

Also, it is not just Christianity that warns us against judging others. I've found a lot of good Buddhist sayings about being judgmental, as well as some from philosophers, both ancient and modern.

I'm starting to think the word "judgmental" is as broad as the word "love" (interesting that those two have the same definition problem). Just like the word "love" can have multiple meanings, so does "judgmental". There are some harsh and cruel judgments, like saying a woman who had an abortion is an immoral slut. Gossip can also be considered being judgmental. But there is some justification to judgments, like murderers, thieves, rapists, etc. And there are some that are the result of exasperation. Meaning, we know it isn't good to put labels on someone or assume what is going on in their hearts and minds. But their behaviors are so irrational, it can boggle the mind.
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:08 AM   #7
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I think when people say 'don't judge' others they really mean don't be quick to judge. Some judgements such as in the court of public opinion are often severely misguided based on ignorance of the person or situation. It's the rush to judgement that is usually problematic, if no analysis occurs of why people are the way they are then we more or less give up on trying to prevent problems before they occur.

For instance certain people will always portray terrorists as evil (even the word terrorist is a moral judgement in itself, but that changes with the wind of political need), without looking at the reasons why they commit such acts. This can often be portrayed as sympathy for killers but really it's just trying to understand why it happened so we can stop it happening.

Somebody being 'evil' is just easy branding that requires no thought. It's the equivalent of watching a fire burning down your house and with no investigation to follow why it happened.

That said we can't avoid certain judgements in a social context, like who we should be friends with and what not but we should reflect a good deal whether there is any stigma involved.
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Old 07-21-2013, 12:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Pearl View Post
Let's say a friend is being aimless in life, or keeps getting into abusive relationships, or is becoming increasingly arrogant at work. Are we really judging them or the situation we're experiencing from them?
In this case I think it really depends on the relationship you have with that person. If you (or anyone) has already established an unconditional love/trust - then perhaps that person's mind is open to some "advice". However - advice and criticism are not the same thing. I've never know anyone to change from direct/confrontational style criticism.

As you mentioned - numerous philosophies and religions teach the same thing about judgement. I guess finding that common ground is essential. Also - encouraging the "good" behavior when you see it in someone can motivate more of that "good" behavior. (Wow, you're so patient! Wow, you're so generous...)

For instance, one time someone said I reminded them of Atticus Finch the way I handled my children. It was such a compliment! Even though I didn't think I was anything close to that - it motivated me to be more like that.

Encouragement trumps criticism almost every time.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:40 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by LJT View Post
I think when people say 'don't judge' others they really mean don't be quick to judge. Some judgements such as in the court of public opinion are often severely misguided based on ignorance of the person or situation. It's the rush to judgement that is usually problematic, if no analysis occurs of why people are the way they are then we more or less give up on trying to prevent problems before they occur.

For instance certain people will always portray terrorists as evil (even the word terrorist is a moral judgement in itself, but that changes with the wind of political need), without looking at the reasons why they commit such acts. This can often be portrayed as sympathy for killers but really it's just trying to understand why it happened so we can stop it happening.

Somebody being 'evil' is just easy branding that requires no thought. It's the equivalent of watching a fire burning down your house and with no investigation to follow why it happened.
I think this is all a very good point. There is a lot of rush to judgment out there, and it is amazing how cruel and ignorant people are.

However, I notice that when someone tries to make sense out of someone's behavior in order to work out a problem, many consider that to be sympathy for the person who did wrong. As if you are making excuses for their behavior. I think there's a big difference between making sense and making an excuse, though that could also be a fine line.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:43 PM   #10
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In this case I think it really depends on the relationship you have with that person. If you (or anyone) has already established an unconditional love/trust - then perhaps that person's mind is open to some "advice". However - advice and criticism are not the same thing. I've never know anyone to change from direct/confrontational style criticism.
Indeed. I can't stand it when people think giving brutal criticism is the answer to everyone's problems. I can agree that there is a time for being blunt to someone who needs a huge reality check, but there are times when it is uncalled for. How the person giving that blunt honesty judges the right time says a lot about them.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:40 PM   #11
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There's a real difference between saying "That's a terrible decision" and "You are a terrible person." Even when people do genuinely terrible things, often it's partly because they've been living in a world of hurt of their own and they don't know what else to do.

Aside from a few psychopaths I think most people want the same things- to be safe, to be well, to be loved, to be approved. Sometimes people just fear that the only way they can get those things is by force or manipulation. I think most evil deeds come from error- mistakes, lack of understanding, fear and self protection. So while we can legitimately judge somebody for doing terrible things (whether it's constantly repeating the same bad relationship, rape or murder or just being an asshole) we can still feel pity and love for them.
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