On being judgemental

Ever since the "bash-and-get-bashed incident" on Twitter over a month ago, I've wondered about judgement, tribalism and ways in which humans form opinions.

And I can't figure it out. I discussed it briefly with a friend in Twizel who concluded, simply, that I "think too much" and whilst I agree with his opinion, it doesn't actually help me.

Because here's the thing: being judgemental is, in a lot of ways, not often helpful nor is it even appropriate in a lot of the occasions. When humans make their decisions, there are always reasons WHY they make those decisions, and so rather than being judgemental it's important to have the empathy and the respect to look into another person's life, and to ask, why. Why do you do that? Not in a judgemental way, but with curiosity and understanding.

But then the thing is... In order for me to make decisions about my own life and to figure out what's bad and what's good, I need to be judgemental to a degree. I need to look at someone skidding down a streetcorner in their SUV and think, "You're an asshole!" in order to form an opinion that skidding down corners where pedestrians and children cross roads is not a nice thing to do. I need to be judgemental to retain the ability to say, "That's good" and "That's bad" because if I weren't, I would simply be... complacent.

And at a time where I am seriously concerned about the environmental impact humans are having on the planet, complacency is not what is going to lead us forward, I don't think. I am having to figure out where the balance stands between being overly judgemental - as in, being judgemental in situations where judgement is not helpful - and being judgemental enough.

Flying from Singapore to London and watching food served on the plane - the flight attendant is speaking to a person who has, clearly, struggled to get her kids to sleep and already has "Do not disturb for meal service" stickers on her seats, and yet the flight attendant still taps her on the shoulder and asks, "Are you sure you don't want dinner? It's going to be a long time until the next meal."

Is that too much judgement? Or just enough?

Driving down highways in South-West England and the cars are just... incessant.

Is that too much judgement? Or just enough?

Washing clothes in a sink next to an unsealed MDF cupboard and thinking, this cupboard is not going to last a long time. The water splashes are going to make it expand over time and become both unsightly and impractical.

Is that too much judgement? Or just enough?

When is it okay for me to look at another person's life and think, man, this does not make sense? And when is it not okay?

It's so much simpler with friends. My friends are people who I've already voluntarily invited into my life because I like them, and so it's so much easier to not be judgemental with them because, well... I like them. I understand them because I like them already.

But then there's family. It's more difficult with family because family are people who I would not necessarily invite into my life in other circumstances. I'm kind of stuck with them. They're family.

And then it's harder still with people I do not know nor understand. A man walking down an airport terminal whilst his wife is dragging their luggage, head wrapped in a headscarf (hijab), two kids in tow and the man's doing... nothing.

A woman talking about their kitchen and how it's so important to "modernise" it because whilst fully functional, it looks dated and she does not want a kitchen that looks dated. She wants her house to be "worth more".

I still can't figure it out. When's judgement "functional"?

And when is it just too much?

It's confusing.


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  2. In our case, we invest in our house because our house is our pension. We use the improvements in our house while we raise our family and once the kid (kids) leave and we no longer need a large property, we downsize and free up some of the money to use as our income in retirement. This system works in England where properties hold and increase in their value year on year because of the constantly increasing population and land and property shortages making demand always high. Yes, we are privileged in that we are able to make house improvements (by taking out loan and paying it back) and are able to repay the mortgage in the first place, but this is not without personal sacrifice or continuous hard work. Nothing has come to us free.
    My comment is a bit off topic, but I felt a need to explain :)

    Kustutasin eelmise kommentaari ja kirjutasin uue anonüümsena, sest sa vist ikka veel ei saa minu kommentaaridest enda mailiboxi teadet :)

    1. Jep - sa oled siiamaani ainukene, kelle kommentaarid kunagi labi ei tule. Koik teised tulevad, alati.

      Vastan kommentaari pohisisule inglise keeles, nagu sinagi:

      I understand the reasoning behind the improvements-on-the-house thinking. It's kind of like me and The Man were talking with our family yesterday that, at the moment, solar panels on our house don't yet financially make sense. The cost versus the payoff is still skewed towards cost - the time in which they would "pay themselves off" is close to their expected life length, so financially it makes sense to wait for a couple more years until the cost comes down and the technology improves so they would make financial sense in an Invercargill climate. I understand the financial environment in which you are in, too.

      However, it's important to understand that when talking about something making sense financially it doesn't necessarily transfer into the same thing making sense in other ways.

  3. Jep, see kõik on väga segadusse ajav. Hetkel tunnen seda metsateemal. Mul on väga raske aru saada neist inimestest, kes arvavad, et selline metsalagastamine, mis eestis praegu toimud on ok. Ja siis on see teine pool, kelle meelest 50 aastased kuused kukuvad kohe ümber ja mets läheb raisku kui teda kiiresti nulli peale maha ei võeta. Nende hulgas võib olla ju palju kenasid ja häid inimesi, aga mul on raske seda näha.

    1. Jep, seda metsateemat ma olen ise ka moelnud, ja uuemas blogipostituses kirjutasin natuke ise ka...

  4. Very interesting. I think anyone who says they're not judgemental is lying. From my point of view every example you've given is totally 'normal judgement'. Most of the time though, that judgement needs to stay inside because it doesn't affect you or the world you live in, e.g. the kitchen or the selfish man at the airport. Sometimes it does affect you, but you just can't do anything about it e.g. speeding or drunk drivers, litterbugs, etc. So I think maybe it's ok to judge internally as it helps you steer your own life in the direction YOU want it to go, it's like a moral compass to you... maybe by changing your life and the little things in your small circle around you, it will eventually spread wider, into the community, into your city, your country... Unless you see that someone is getting hurt, let everyone do their own thing...

  5. Kas võib järeldada, et te olete kõik õnnelikult Euroopasse jõudnud?