Surviving the Nonjudgmental

The word judgmental is the spiritually-correct label of shame. Apparently the reasoning is this: it’s not judgmental to say that a person who committed an act of cruelty did a bad thing, but it is judgmental to say that the person who committed the act is a bad person.

In a world of 7 billion people, many behaving badly, being judgmental is a survival skill as well as a cause of suffering within a social structure. But a truly nonjudgmental person would not support taking sides, so in our daily lives, being judgmental is unavoidable if we have values that guide us. A man who beats children or animals can’t be a good person in some unidentified way we just haven’t tried hard enough to find.

Wild Bill wrote last week of rescuing a dog whose owner had tied cinder blocks to it and dumped it in a lake. I am judgmental because I freely base a person’s (the abuser and all like them) entire worth on a single act, even though there are several million articles that say this is the wrong way to live.

Every day, judgments are made in millions of blogs, news articles, and comment sections. News articles are passively judgmental while commenters are viciously so. People who consider themselves nonjudgmental encourage public condemnation of Christians, atheists, conservatives, liberals, smokers, alcoholics, yuppies, welfare mothers, celebrities, adulterers, prostitutes, or anyone who does or doesn’t share our beliefs. We are judgmental out of jealousy, poverty, wealth, frustration, self-preservation, compassion—just about any emotion or life stage imaginable. It is not possible to ask humans to not be human, the lesson to be learned is in our reactions.

I am pleasant to everyone I meet but that doesn’t mean I want to fraternize, it means I want to live. I don’t publicly denigrate or feel superior, I judge. Every single one of us knows people we think are useless, mean, difficult, stupid, or annoying. If you’ve never had contact with someone and then said to yourself, “what an asshole,” then you can join the rest of the people on the head of the pin who are candidates for sainthood.

There are so many interpretations of this word that it’s become one more smarmy term whose reputation can’t be lived up to. I judge this word meaningless.

31 responses to “Surviving the Nonjudgmental

  1. I think you can (and should) judge people by their actions. What other basis do we have?

  2. What makes me sick...

    Dear Debra,
    Dum Dum has ‘judged’ your post to be *Top Notch* in the ‘Observation of Human Nature’ category! I would like to forward you something that I have received from another Blog I subscribe to, which really nails what’s going on in this country and seems to fit in with what you have written. I would also like to hear about Wild Bill and that positively heroic rescue of that dog. Cinder blocks, lake, man that’s just sick. Well done Bill. Take care.
    Dum Dum

    • I never know if bloggers want links (since I’m judgmental), it’s a recent post by Wild Ramblings on my blog roll, but the incident happened a long time ago. This one happened to get seared into my mind and won’t go away. Sick stuff happens every day.

  3. Excellent post. I have spent 5 years full time lobbying for animals caught in the web of the North Carolina animal shelter system. Yes, I judge. I am human, not a god; therefore I must step back, assess, and make a valid judgement. I do not accept any form of animal abuse!

    • Thank you livvy. I will be forever judgmental of those who do harm. I do not try or care to understand them. Another reason I try to be nice to people is that I don’t want them to go home and hurt their animals. See, it has nothing to do with my love or understanding of humanity. I don’t think there is any.

      I mask my anger so it doesn’t get passed along.

      Thank you for working for the animals in your state.

  4. We all have biases, and the trick to being “human” is to recognize those biases and apply them appropriately. So many people are “judgmental” for the wrong or no reason.
    As you mention, judging people and situations is a survival skill, and if you can’t judge someone by their actions, what else is there to go on?

    • Hi Harry, there sure are a lot of people out there who are mean for no reason, just because it’s accepted. It’s a mean world and getting meaner.

      Observe, be aware, recognize, be wary, and make judgments to keep yourself safe. I go one step further by carrying a weapon.

  5. First of all I am delighted about the rescue of the dog, it made my day.

    The coffee shop where I hang out is populated by fans of the Philadelphia Eagles and the beyond-infamous Michael Vick. When I announce how much I hate him they will say he’s a great quarterback (true) and “everyone deserves a second chance (not true in my books). Yes I totally judge him and I don’t get the sense he is truly sorry, except for being caught. If I someday stand judgment for being judgmental I will do the best I can to plead my case. Judging is a lot less evil than drowning, electrocuting and torturing dogs.

    • Hi Ann, the dog rescue happened a long time ago, Bill just mentioned it in a post. It didn’t make my day, it ruined my day. Because it’s one tiny little speck of goodness among the mighty power of evil that people get away with every day. Bill just happened to be there, a minute later he wouldn’t have been. Evil is a force that can’t be stopped and I judge all the abusers no matter what their history.

      I don’t talk to people anymore about what I think. But I can write it in by blog.

  6. What a thought provoking post. A different perspective that made me think. Thanks for posting.

    So glad to hear of the rescue of the dog. Cinder blocks??? WHY????

    • Thank you Donna. We see abuse here every day, but something about the cinder blocks story made us crazy. I told my partner and he flipped out. We had a fantasy about tracking the guy down and tying cinder blocks to him and throwing him off a boat. If I caught someone doing it today, I cannot say what my adrenaline would decide to do. It just made me realize how impossible it is to not be judgmental. Stuff like this happens every minute of every day.

  7. Why does it bother me?

    Great post Debra. Sick treatment of that poor dog. I am firm believer in the theory that people who abuse animals start to move up the rungs of the, what shall we call it, the ‘abuse ladder’?
    I judge ALL the time. I am quite vocal on my blog and in life I will speak up if I feel I need too. Because as you say it keeps us safe and I’ll be damned if I am being associated with things / people I don’t think behave in the right way. That is not to say I behave in the right way all the time, but I also don’t push my beliefs down others throats… if you get what I mean.

    • I guess what I’m saying is that these abusers have been judged and nothing can change that. My neighbor who starved his dogs will never, ever receive any goodwill or help or even a wave from me again. I’m not going to forgive him—or other people who have made my life miserable in one way or another over the years. I judge, write off, and they no longer exist. People say we should forgive. That just makes me laugh. And when people judge me, really, who gives a shit. You’re a good person Gary, you keep speaking up. We can’t all be freaking Buddha.

  8. Well Darlin…. I was confused after the first paragraph 🙂

    In my opinion, I don’t think there’s a person alive that isn’t judgmental to some degree and the people who profess adamantly how non-judgmental they are may be one the most judgmental.
    A person claiming to be non-judgmental is often the person that talks badly about another person or group of people, but does so only with a small group of other “non-judgmental” people. Of course, this makes those who claim not to be judgmental very two-faced.

    I try to be open minded about many things, but there are many other things, and groups of people that I will judge. When I do judge a person or their actions, I will always take the time to offer my reasons or facts to back it up.

  9. I agree with much of what you have to say. I would say that I’m quick to have opinions about someone but it takes me a little longer to pass judgement. Mostly because I try to find out the whole story. Occasionally there are extenuating circumstances (but most often there are not).

    That being said there are very specific acts that are horrendous, and these acts by themselves are deserving of immediate judgement. And yes, you are right, the s.o. b. that dumped my beloved Scruggs in the lake with cinder blocks attached to his neck were sick and depraved human beings. And had I gotten my hands on them at that moment it would not have been a good thing. Lucky for me, Lucky for them.

    Loved the honesty in this post!

    • Bill, what I would do would not be legal.

      Saving this dog should be an occasion for relief and thanks, but it’s not. It depresses me in new ways. There was a video that went viral a couple months ago of a Serbian girl flinging puppies in a river saying “wheeee!” with each one. Muslims all over the world will not accommodate customers with guide dogs and will not allow their own blind people to own seeing-eye dogs. There are few places in the world where respect is taught for animals. We aren’t born judgmental, we learn it.

  10. As uncomfortable as it makes me, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I believe there is right and wrong in this world, as well as good and evil. I am perfectly willing to judge one action acceptable and another wrong. It seems to me that those who refuse to make judgements are precisely the ones leading us down to the cesspool – where all actions are equally acceptable, all thoughts lovely, and all outcomes beyond reproach.

    To take it out of the realm of highly-charged emotional subjects for a moment, think about writing. If a student comes to me with an essay filled with misspellings, poor grammar, texting-induced abbreviations and an utter absence of thought, what am I to say? That it’s really quite acceptable, and that after all, the little darling tried her hardest?
    Would it be just too, too judgemental to say, “This is a pile of worthless (words)”?

    I can’t quite get hold of my thought, so I’ll do my best: perhaps the biggest problem with the word “judgmental” is that we use it as a way to protect ourselves from the necessity of making judgments.

    • And really, the only people who would care if someone called them judgmental wouldn’t do anything that bad anyway, they are worrying over some politically-correct violation. “Weellll, I don’t like to be judgmental, but it does seem like Bertha is letting herself go…” Well duh, she probably is. I wish I had a circle of friends I could have a nice gossip with. It would be healthy for me, it would make me laugh, I could try out some new jokes, I would go home feeling like I’m not the worst person on earth. I wish I could just be honest all the time. Whatever. But noooo, we mustn’t say jack about anybody no matter how true. Yet online commenters, TV, reality shows, high school kids, etc., get away with it all the time—look at all the bullying.

      I will contemplate your closing thought…

  11. One of my favorite songs … Hope you enjoy!

  12. Apparently I am politically incorrect. I am judgmental at times just like every other human on this little rock. I try to maintain a sense of humor as I see going to prison for shooting others is not a vacation I want to be on. 🙂
    We are taught to be forgiving and help our “neighbors”. In the past few years I have only met Takers. They give nothing back to the world. Just continue to Take.
    You are a giver. You have a kind heart and speak out against any type of injustice. Blessings to you, Debra.

    • Thank you Barb. Seems as if the whole world is afflicted en masse with the most depressing of personality disorders…I haven’t been feeling at all cheerful in such a long time. Dorothy Parker said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me…” and that’s about where I stand right now. They’re trying to take my soul…thanks for helping me stay anchored.

      • I love the Dorothy Parker line. I know you have good friends there. But, know that even though your followers care about you. Do Not Let Them Take Your Soul….Stand Strong Girl. I just wish you had the means to live in another place. A place where kindness can prevail……

  13. This post reminds me of something I think about more often than I should. I used to live in the city. Walking down the street one day, I saw a woman beating her little boy. He looked to be about 2 years old. She was holding him by the arm, beating him on the back and bottom with all her might. His whole body swayed with each blow–his feet weren’t touching the ground. He was screaming and crying.

    I hollered at her, “Please don’t hurt your baby!!”
    Her reply? “Mind your business!”

    I don’t care what he did. A child that small NEVER deserves that. Mind your business? She was making it my business. And that little boy will grow up one day and live in the world with me, with my children. When he thinks it’s okay to beat my child on the school bus, will it then be my business?

    We share this world. What you do IS my business. And for the people who don’t want their actions in society to be my business, they can find a hole to live in, far far from civilization.

    I wish I had called the police on that woman.

    • Oh Kay this strikes me deeply. What just happened in China, the video that went viral of the little girl who got run over by a truck and left for dead as people walked by. Everybody was afraid to interfere because OF LAWYERS. A few years ago a good Samaritan was accused and sued in China and it’s turned people’s hearts to stone. More likely because of fear.

      I spent nine hours yesterday in an intensive Gun Laws & Self-Defense class. And what did I learn? That if you get involved, you can end up in prison. If you see a child or anybody being beaten or raped and you interfere, you can be sued by the family. Their lawyers will figure out how. If you yourself are attacked and fight back, you can be sued. The courts don’t even consider rape a life threat. This is what our government has become.

      We have created a world that’s almost not worth living in, a world of fear. Fear of offending, fear of being judgmental, fear of even thinking that a culture may have cruel aspects, fear of defending ourselves. But we have to step in when we see bullying or abuse. We have to. We have cell phones now, call 911. Take videos. If it’s an animal, I wouldn’t wait, I would be temporarily insane and not responsible. This peace and love shit isn’t working.

      • I heard about the Chinese little girl but haven’t watched it. I can’t. I did, however, watch the Judge William Adams beating his 16-year-old disabled daughter, and I’d give anything to go back and stop myself from watching it. I was just skeptical–I didn’t think it could be as bad as people said it was. And I was wrong. It is bad.

        And these are just the things caught on video. I don’t want to think about what goes on in people’s homes every day. People are despicable. Yes we have to step in. If I could travel back in time and take that little boy away from that woman, I would. If she had been a man, I would instead call the police. If he was one of my children, I’d hope someone else would do the same (although I’d never beat one of mine, but you see my point). We need to have higher expectations of one another. We need to stop looking away.

  14. intersting blog. I put up a blog recently of a book called ‘Damaged Children’ , the only book I have ever reviewed on my blog. As the title suggests it is about children who were sexually abused. Carolyn is an adult now who blogs about her experiences and that of others. Amazingly she has the grace, the capaciousness to forgive

  15. I’m sick to death of being told I shouldn’t be judgmental. That to judge is wrong, is a stupid ‘new age’ concept. Judgement is a survival mechanism and our species (and others) could not survive without it. A man who committed a heinous act is capable of committing more. I don’t care if he has some good in him; that he has the capacity for evil is all I need to know and it is in the interest of my survival to avoid him. Anyone who claims to be non-judgmental, in my opinion, is full of crap.

    • Hi Honjii, me too. Well put, that it is in the best interest of our survival to avoid those who do evil. If you don’t, nobody will call you judgmental, but they will call you stupid.

      I actually think too many Americans are not judgmental enough, we pretty much let the world, the government, and many other destructive forces run us down and make our lives impossible because we are conditioned to “not judge.”

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