9.17.2005

Judgment

Recently an acquaintance of mine, who is in the entertainment industry, made a very public announcement about a very personal situation. Immediately the responses started pouring in and ranged from "You Da Man!" to "You're an asshole!" Within a short time the responses had little to do with this man or his situation and instead the responders had turned on each other.

"Who are you to judge," they shouted at his detractors.

"You're just as stupid and immoral as he is," they shouted at his supporters.

And, of course, there was the inevitable cry of, "Until you have walked in his shoes you can't judge!"

Well, newsflash people, yes, we can judge without putting on his size fourteens. We can, and do, judge people every day.

We judge people based on their appearance, their accent, and what we know of their situations. We judge businesses based on their reputations, religions based on the actions of their followers, celebrities based on what is printed about them and our politicians based on their perceived morals (or lack thereof.) Our whole judicial system is based on societal judgment. Part of being human is the ability to judge - to trust our gut. Some people are even admired for their "good judgment."

I don't have to walk in a child molester's shoes to know that he or she is evil. I don't have to walk in a cancer patient's shoes to know that he or she is in pain. I can form my opinion based on knowledge and my own life experiences.

Yes, we should try to obtain the "whole story" before forming our opinions. And yes, we should not be quick to judge. In the end, our judgment isn't the one that matters either.

We all have to live with the consequences of our choices, including the judgment that follows. Like I once told my teen step-daughter, "You have to look at your self in the mirror every day. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. You gotta figure out if YOU like what you see looking back at you."

Me? I try to temper my judgment of others with a hefty dose of, "There but for the grace of God go I."

I advise everyone to do the same.

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