It amazes me how much casual conversation, and of course gossip, is about judging the people around us. Be it celebrities, neighbors, friends, or others, we have a pre-occupation with forming, and then sharing, opinions about their behaviour.
Like criticism, it feels like something we might do to make ourselves feel better about our lot in life, or somehow superior to others. Most judgement is comparison in another guise.
In the long run, judging only harms. I can’t see any real benefit.
Most consider judgment as inherently negative. We find faults in others. But the irony is even a positive opinion — the commonly suggested alternative to being judgemental — is still a judgement. It feels better somehow, but it remains judgemental nonetheless.
Is it possible, or even more beneficial, to not have an opinion?
I don’t mean not to care, but simply to accept that we don’t know everything — the backstory if you will — about whatever or whomever it is we’re tempted to pass judgement on. Since we don’t know the entire story, it’s premature, and often unfair, to pass judgement at all.
The Bible’s admonition — “Judge not lest ye be judged” — is what people often turn to when talking about being judgy.
What makes that a hard statement to accept is that it’s punitive and threatening. (Yes, that’s a judgement on my part.) What it’s saying is don’t judge or you will be punished.
Can’t we just step back and be more accepting? Can’t we avoid being judgemental as much as possible out of kindness and equanimity, rather than out of some fear of punishment or retribution?
Can’t we just accept that people are messy, and that our opinion doesn’t really matter?