I see a lot of people bending over backwards not to be Judgmental these days. In a way, that's good, I think. It only divides us, harming ourselves and others, to pass judgment on each other.
But it causes problems when we try so hard not to be Judgmental that we wind up being Stupid, instead. Which, I think, is also harmful to ourselves and others, and ought to be avoided as well.
Let me define the terms I'm using, .
Judgmental, as the word is commonly used, means making value judgments about others; deciding that they aren't doing what they "should" be doing, or that this one has less intrinsic value than that one.
Stupid is failing to make value judgments about what we ourselves do and don't want in our own lives; about our own actions, what we should be doing and where we want to go on our own spiritual path. It's about choosing things that will help us, rather than hinder us.
I'm not qualified to have any opinion on whether or not someone else is doing what they "should" be doing. That's between them and their own conscious, guide(s) and deity(s) (if any.)
It's possible that, whatever they are doing, it's exactly the path they should be on, even if it looks stupid, malicious, or wrong-headed to me. We are here primarily to learn lessons, remember, and that person may be busily learning one, or helping others to learn one. Exactly as they should be.
I also don't think that it's possible for one person to have more or less intrinsic value than another. I believe that we are all equally, and infinitely, valuable.
However, I am perfectly qualified to know if a teacher is leading the way on a path I'm interested in following, or if this or that person is one I wish to associate with. In fact, I'm the only person who is qualified to know these things!
So, when someone tells me something that doesn't ring true for my own life, it's not Judgmental to decline to take that advice, decide not to finish reading that book, or opt not to follow that path. It would be Stupid to do so, knowing that it's not for me.
When I get ready to step into an elevator in a mostly-deserted building late at night, and find that it's already occupied by someone who causes the hairs on the back of my neck to rise, it's not Judgmental to suddenly remember something I've forgotten, and leave the elevator lobby just as the doors close. It would be Stupid to get onto that elevator, when all my instincts are screaming "Danger! Danger! Warning, Will Robinson!"
We have minds, hearts, and bodies for a reason. It's my opinion that when we allow our actions to be informed by our reason, our emotions, and our visceral response we are able to triangulate quite well, and come to the correct answer for our own lives.
It's when we ignore one of more of these avenues of information - when we let our minds override our feelings about a situation, or let our feelings overcome what we know, intellectually, to be true - that we get into trouble.
Like everything else, it's about balance.
It's about carefully, mindfully using our best judgment about what is right for us, not what is right for other people. About judging the safety of a situation, not the character of those who are in that situation with us. About making judgments for ourselves, not for others.
Judgment isn't a bad word.
Webster says it's "The process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing." It allows us to bring the wealth of our past experiences and our view of the Universe to our decisions.
Our judgment allows us to act carefully, mindfully, from our hearts and guts, using our instincts, our emotions, and our reasons to find the best way to pursue the path that we have chosen.
Please, please don't allow anyone to ridicule this extremely important ability. (Ever notice how those who scoff at judgment feel free to despise you if you even use the word? Ummm … they might say that it's bad, but what exactly are they doing? Bear that in mind, before you buy into their judgment of you.)
Please, please, don't try so hard not to be Judgmental that you wind up being Stupid.
(And, if this essay doesn't ring true for you, then use your own judgment to disregard it!)