Judgement means the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions; It's a simple word but one that can bring many people unhappiness. Applying the word in life is part of being human; We make judgements all the time and the decisions that result from these judgements impact our life in many different ways. Consider the driver who judges himself fit to drive home after 5 drinks at the bar and then ploughs into an innocent passerby killing them. Or, conversely the judgment that leads to a decision to walk home or catch a cab...The decision made will certainly change lives one way or another in this case right?
Judgement also changes lives in other ways of course, positive and negative, however there's one particular incarnation of it that I find particularly abhorrent: Pre-judgement. That is, to pass judgment prematurely or without sufficient reflection or investigation. You know what I mean right? Judging a person on how they look for instance, or on information heard second or third-hand, or on the actions of other similar people. I wonder how many people in the world have pre-judged a situation or person only to regret it at a later time or to their personal detriment. I would guess the number is uncountable.
So, as a human, making judgements is impossible to avoid; Even children make them from a very young age. We need to make judgements to get through life. I think it's ingrained in our makeup however pre-judgment on the other hand is a learned process. Where we learn it from I do not know: Parents and grand-parents certainly, people we meet at social-environments as kids like schools and clubs, work, newspapers, books, television, the radio and of course social media. All of the above I think. Pre-judgement not only leads to incorrect decision-making, loss of opportunity and options but also pain and suffering, disappointment, depression and of course, the danger of being judged for pre-judging itself and found wanting as a person, peer, colleague, partner, friend etc. It's a slippery slope. Pre-judgement I mean.
I've recently been judged...I say judged not pre-judged because there was some consideration based on supplied information and a subsequent sensible decision ensued...I'm in for some more judgement also as there's another industry award I have been put forward for also and so the judgement begins again. I'm not really comfortable with it but I have little choice.
I've also been pre-judged...A lot.
From a young age I was pre-judged. Growing up in a small town in the 1970's, and being a little different, meant that the kids at school were quite cruel. I won't say the words, but by the time I was seven I had been called just about every derogatory racial-slur known to mankind. I had also been ostracised based simply on how I looked. None of the kids bothered to get to know me, I was simply the "xxxxxx" to them and not worthy of any courtesy, respect or friendship. I'm not special in that way though. I was talking to a friend of mine a few days ago, a very beautiful woman as an adult, but as a kid...Well, she was mercilessly picked on and pre-judged because she had an eye-condition and wore glasses. I'm sure she felt the same as I did of course, ostracised.
Pre-judgment is really just an eleven-letter word for prejudice. It sounds a little more sinister doesn't it? Prejudice.
As I grew older the prejudice changed, became more sophisticated, and of course often more hurtful however getting called some of the names I was called at six years old was very hurtful indeed, so maybe it was just a different sort of hurt I was feeling.
These day's, as an adult member of the human race (I still maintain that I am from another planet though) I am still being pre-judged and am subjected to prejudice. The difference is I am more aware of what people who are prejudiced against me are really all about and more aware of who I actually am as a person. I no longer go home crying each day like I did as a six year old and nor do I teach people lessons with my fists as I did as a teenager. I have character though. All of those times I suffered through verbal taunts and prejudice as a kid, and even into my 20's and 30's built that character.
I am pre-judged for being too rich, for being too successful, for not being successful enough, for not driving the right car, or living in the right suburb, for not being wealthy, not eating at the right restaurants or wearing the right watch or suit. I was recently pre-judged for a track I had playing in my car when someone got in...Seriously. Occasionally I get racially vilified but not often. I got told to "go back to my own country" earlier this year. I wasn't pleased considering I'm as Australian as Vegemite. I think most people reading this may relate. People's misconceptions are almost laughable, or would be if they weren't relied upon to actually judge others and make decisions upon. It's a pretty sad world we live in; A world full of sheeple. Ignorance. Hubris. Narcissism. Hate. Greed. Jealousy. Entitlement.
I'm not sure where it's all headed to be honest; It's certainly creating a rise in depression and youth-suicide despite all the initiatives to counter it. It's changing people also I think, both the people being prejudiced against and those perpetrating the prejudice. It's odd that prejudice is a learned-process because just as prejudice can be learned so can understanding and patience. It's not too late to discover the true meaning of the word judgement and deploy it with more conviction and regularity.
We, as humans, have the ability to learn, and unlearn habits. We also have the benefit of recorded and remembered history to draw upon. I can draw upon the verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse I endured as a kid and learn from it. I could have perpetuated the behaviour but built a character instead allowing me to be the successful (sort of confident), slightly shy and people-phobic man I am today. We have the ability to look at the mistakes of the past, choose not to repeat them and to stand above, apart, as individuals and as a race; The human race, purportedly the most intelligent animal on the planet.
Judgement is a necessary part of life however it should be applied carefully and only after the facts have been considered, weighed and measured. Do I judge people? Yes, of course, like all of us. Do I pre-judge people, situations and concepts? I'd like to say no not at all, however I have done so, in the past and I may in the future. I work to avoid it though. I work hard at that. I recall my own upsetting experiences, I recall lessons learned from history and from all around me in the present. Prejudice is not constructive. Prejudice is not intelligent. Prejudice is not acceptable.