Human beings are exceptionally good at judging each other.
This is something I’ve always been curious about. It seems that no matter where we go, people are judging and being judged by others.
Of course, a certain amount of judgement is healthy and natural. We are constantly making value judgements in our daily lives—whether or not to stop at the gas station on the way to work, whether or not to start up a conversation with someone, and so on and so forth.
There is a utility in making value judgements, and this skill has a great deal to do with how we have evolved as a species. What I am concerned with, though, is whether or not the judgements that we make about people serves us in any way.
I have found myself thinking a lot about religion and the fundamental ideas that exist beneath the rigid structures and established practices of traditional belief systems. There are certain ethics and principles found in religious doctrine that speak to our fundamental nature as human beings, helping us conduct ourselves in the world.
One of them being:
“Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” ~ Matthew 7:1-3
It is often times the simplest truths that are the most powerful.
Personally, I don’t see a utility in judging people for two reasons in particular. For one, we are always changing. Who we are today might not be who we are tomorrow. Our attitudes, perceptions, motivations, and personalities are subject to change. It doesn’t make sense to judge someone for something they did five years ago when they have completely shifted who they are in that time.
Of course, some things don’t change, and it is best to be aware of those repeating patterns as much as possible. But that is entirely different than judging someone. To judge someone is to stagnate that person—to see them as always the same. We can’t really judge a person in their totality because they are too fluid and complicated; we can only judge our idea we have about that person, and our idea is never complete.
Secondly, we all contain the potential for the highest good and the greatest evil. Under the right circumstances, we can be helpful to our neighbors, considerate of our friends, loving to our partners, and kind to strangers. Under different circumstances, we could become murderous and vengeful psychopaths. Again, consider the log in your eye before beholding the speck in your brother’s eye.
I have been trying not to judge people—including myself.
When we judge people, we limit how we see the world. We can be aware of people’s faults without necessarily judging them about it, and this is the key distinction to me. We can understand that someone is going through a tricky time in their life without putting them in a box as being this or that kind of person. We can recognize that someone is acting maliciously without deeming them inherently malicious.
It is important to give people the benefit of the doubt. This is something I’ve written about recently in relation to forgiveness, and how we must turn the other cheek, even if we are hurt by the actions of another. These very simple principles are capable of changing the world. If everyone could embody these qualities of being, without growing cynical or bitter about their own affairs, the world would transform for the better.
Being religious is no more than believing in the notion of truth. Truth is the sum of all human values that result in the alleviation of suffering over the longest stretch of time. It is the consolidation of all of the principles that are most effective to human beings in the lessening of sorrow.
Of course, truth is something that can’t be fully grasped by human beings, but surely it is something we can move closer toward as we cultivate our own consciousness and put into practice the most holistically profitable ways of being. Ceasing to pass unnecessary judgement is one of these ways.
We are all angels and demons.
We are all capable of the very best and the very worst of human behavior. To really understand this—not merely intellectually, but in a deep experiential sense—is to be free of the inclination to judge. It is here that we truly see ourselves in another person.
When we stop judging others, we no longer judge ourselves.
A world without judgement would be a much kinder place.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
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