On Judgement

If you are unable to find respectful, kind, and intelligent people to be with, this means that the respectful, kind, and intelligent people are avoiding you. Turn your gaze inward and try to figure out why that is.

This is not some kind of nebulous or ambiguous concept, like karma or the law of attraction. This is a reality born out of the simple relationship of cause and effect.

A popular theme among the young of mind is that of judgment. Don’t judge people, you have no right, is the general gist of it. But I think in the interweb land of groupthink enabling, the act of judging is getting a bad rap.

Without making judgments, we can’t function as human beings. “That looks like a shitty movie, so I won’t waste my time seeing it.” “That guy seems like a toxic asshole, I’m going to avoid him from now on.” “The road seems icy, I’d better slow down.” These are all judgments. The ability to quickly assess people, places, and things, and adjust our behavior accordingly is a critical factor in a person’s success and happiness in life.

“Yes, Captain Obvious,” you may well be thinking, “but we shouldn’t judge people for their personal choices and behavior (unless they’re conservative). That’s wrong!”

No it isn’t. How are we supposed to judge someone other than their behavior? Their eye color? The words people speak, the ideas they support, and how they treat themselves and other humans is all behavior. We make judgments on that behavior in order to categorize people into groups: friends, assholes, dangers, necessary bores, and whatever else.

Proclaiming: “I will not be judged,” is nonsense. Of course you will be. We all are. Never forget it. Much better to say: “I don’t want to hear your judgment of me, so shut the fuck up, asshole!” That is perfectly valid.

Making the distinction is important. We make judgments, and that is normal and necessary, but telling people what they are is another matter. In ninety percent of cases, our judgments and opinions are not something other people need to hear. No one gives a shit, and nor should they. If you are qualified to have an educated opinion in a matter, have been asked what you think, or are a real judge with legal power in a courtroom, then by all means, communicate your judgments to the world. But, otherwise, shut the fuck up and let people get on with their day.

The difference between making a judgment and being a judgmental asshole is the ability to shut your mouth.

Now there may well be times when it becomes necessary to communicate our judgments. For example: when a friend started pushing me into joining his family for a marathon viewing of the Star Wars prequels, which they all think are fucking awesome, I finally had to tell him that I think the movies suck. And what a fun argument that was to have!

In your life, perhaps your friend has graduated from blowing strangers at parties to blowing strangers at parties for meth that their boyfriend gives them. You may feel it is time to say something; to make your preexisting judgments about their choices known. Keep in mind, though, that saying something at this point is entirely about you feeling okay about you and your behavior: you have to speak up because to do otherwise would feel wrong. That’s good, just don’t expect this to go well or alter your friend’s behavior. Then, once you’ve spoken your mind the once, it’s time to shut the fuck up about it. If it’s too difficult to be around them, then say goodbye as respectfully as you can manage.

To flip this coin over, we get to being judged. It is never pleasant when someone tells us how they think we’re fucking up. However, whether they are an asshole or not, or even right or not, this person is doing you a service. Most people keep their judgments to themselves (albeit fewer and fewer these days). In eighty percent of cases, an asshole will never know that they have offended someone. People make a judgement, reassess their opinion of the offending party, and move on with their lives. So when someone makes their judgment known, you don’t have to accept it, but you can be assured that many other people feel the same way and are not saying anything about it. Indeed, most will not even tell you what they are really thinking even if you ask them to. Consider the judgmental asshole in your life as your canary in the coal mine.

(As a related aside: Germans are very useful in this regard.)

This brings us back to my original thought: that if you are unable to find respectful, kind, and intelligent people to be with, this means that the respectful, kind, and intelligent people are avoiding you.

I have known many an asshole who engages in all manner of douchebaggery, and they invariably believe that the silent suffering of those around them is acceptance and enjoyment of their bullshit. Then, when someone finally tells them off, that person becomes the villain. “How dare they say that to me! It was just a joke! I’m a funny guy: all my employees laugh their asses off every time I make fun of them.”

Just because an asshole has found a group (usually their family and coworkers) that have to tolerate them, it doesn’t mean they are tolerable.

This is the central idea to my original point. Birds of a feather flock together. So if every person you date winds up being a toxic asshole, and all your friends are toxic assholes, then, I’m sorry to tell you: you are a toxic asshole too.

Now I don’t mean to say that this is a totally universal phenomenon: there are overlaps of social circles, of course. And judgments are being made back and forth even if they are never articulated. And these judgments have very real repercussions in our daily lives; both good and bad. Some people call this karma. I prefer to think of it as interpersonal consequences.

Say my company is looking for a new employee. This is a good, entry-level job that has real room for advancement. I am in a position where who I suggest for the job will probably be hired, because I have a sound reputation there. I have a number of friends, from different walks of life, who are unemployed or hate their jobs. Who do I get the job for? Well, I’m going to have to make a judgment call, and it’s a serious one, because whoever I choose is going to reflect on me. So, that’s too bad that your job sucks so much, Biff. I’m sure something will come along soon for you, just keep looking. And, yeah, that’s a really awesome new tattoo you got of a flesh-eating zombie on your neck! Good work, buddy! Have you thought about going back to school to be a welder? It’s a good gig and you’ll fit right in.

It’s every person’s right to behave however they want, within the bounds of the law. But all of our behavior is judged, constantly, by everyone we meet and talk to. This is life. If you are feeling the lack of a certain kind of person in your life, the only remedy is to be that person yourself, and then you will find who you are looking for. Because that type of person will stop avoiding you.

Do what you will, it’s your life. Just don’t act like you are powerless to change your life and the people in it.

You are anything but.

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