We all do it.  It’s an inescapable part of being human, a nasty little remnant of a time when life was dangerous and we had to make split second decisions if we were to survive.  We all make judgements.  We make them based on everything, the clothes people wear, the foods they eat, the job they do, whether they rise early in the morning or not, the music they like, the car they drive, whether it’s our business or not we make a judgement.  I accept that.  But, rather like farting in public, I think it’s something we should aim to keep control of.

Of course there are occasions when making a moral judgement is necessary, if someone may be a danger to others for instance, but in most cases, I think you’ll agree, people’s flaws, even if they are flaws and not just alternative perspectives, are not dangerous.  Everyone is different and we all face our own unique challenges.  Until you’ve lived in someone else’s skin and felt what they feel, you have no idea what compels them to behave in the way that they do.  Life isn’t easy for anyone and we all cope as best we can.  Can you ever be sure of where your judgements come from?  Are they a sign that you are the infinitely superior one?  Or are they a sign of your own flaws?  And why exactly do you think there’s a leader board anyway?

You may think all of this is a little bit petty.  You’re not hurting anyone by judging them for their dress sense so why should you change?  But here’s the thing, little judgements are the gateway drug to big judgements and big judgements are the basis of some some pretty scary shit.  Big judgements are what sits behind the ugly face of racism and the smarmy villainy of sexism.  Big judgements cause religious wars and ethnic cleansing.  You may be asking how but it’s all very simple, by judging someone you make them less than you and, given the right insidious prod by the right evil bastard, you can make them seem barely human at all.

The really frightening thing is that being intelligent, brilliantly gloriously intelligent, won’t save you from developing an unhealthy tendancy towards cruel and unnecessary judgement.  I have tremendous respect for Richard Dawkins but saying that people who believe in religion should be open to ridicule is just plain wrong.  I agree with the concept of a secular society but a secular society should leave room for private worship and religious freedom.  Respect should not be limited to those deemed worthy by an elite.

I have a proposal, if you accept the mission to try to become the best of humanity, one of the first steps you must take is to take a good long look at your judgements and the opinions that spring from them.  Each time one pops into your head, take a moment to think about whether what your thinking is really fair.  Are you informed enough to make such a judgement?  Is it your place to make such a judgement?  Or could you, if you thought about it, be just a little bit kinder.




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