Friday, January 10, 2014

Maybe You SHOULD Judge

Post-modernity is rife with the idea that people have no right to judge others. Frankly, this is just ludicrous. While certainly we have no right to disrespect others nor to treat them without love, society is built on the principle of sharing sound judgements and passing them on to following generations.

In the secular social paradigm, judging is called "coaching," "mentoring," or "teaching," and its application to our lives is how we know not to eat grass or dirt. Being judged and mentored is how we know how to dress and groom ourselves. How we learn to interact with others. Being judged and corrected is how we know how to operate within the norms of society.

It would make no sense to say, "Well, it is really not my place to judge. Drive on whichever side of the road you like."

Social media of late is FULL of judgments. Posts like "Check out these ten foods to NEVER eat!" judges what is good and what is bad food. The contents of an article, "Top ten ways to dress to impress your date" IS judgement. We accept judgement such as these, but balk at more substantive calls to live better.

Letting other people venture into peril without warning is just maladaptive. "I can't judge you, so if you want to live in crippling debt, it is up to you." While it IS, ultimately, up to them, sharing experiences and insights just might save them a lot of hardship, should they decide to accept the judgement.

This is how society advances: we examine people's lives and compare them with functional, adaptive, healthy norms--standards of conduct that have proven effective for navigating the challenges of life. When we judge that what we observe comes up short, we coach, teach, and mentor the other person toward the better alternative. But without judgement, coaching, teaching, and mentoring would have no rudder, no direction.

While my judgement may not be correct or may not take in all the factors of a situation, society is built on the need for me--for all of us--to challenge others to live better, safer, healthier, more whole lives.  We do this by judging what others are doing and deciding if, from our point of view, it is helpful, healthy, and if it will lead to positive outcomes.

What kind of person would I be if I let people make the same mistakes I have made (or have seen others make) and not warn them--not judge their actions as being problematic?

In the business paradigm, we call judging "performance evaluation" or "performance review." Supervisors judge the performance and work product of those in their charge. Where necessary, they recommend changes, judging some practices inferior to others.

Judging employees assures us, customers, that every Starbucks® will treat us and serve us in a very, very similar manner and that the products we order will be very, very similar, no matter where we are.

From the religious paradigm, we call judging "discipleship," "accountability," or (as with the secular) "mentorship." Christians will surely recognize that the New Testament basis for judging is solid. Paul was not at all keen on people living unholy lives! Jesus called people to live better! Throughout the New Testament, people are encouraged to hold each other accountable, in love, to uphold the ideals taught by Christ.

The idea that people should not judge simply does not hold up. It is a ploy to open the door to any and all conduct. If no one has the right to judge, then nothing we do can be criticized. Yet, in our hearts, we know that we judge and that judging is necessary to keep life moving along. We just don't want our pet vices to be judged!

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