Monday, September 24, 2012

On being a judgemental person

I'm the kind of person that internalises a lot of things and I allow events to lead me to bigger questions. Sometimes it's a bad thing and I fall into negativity but mostly, it helps me contextualise who I am and the reasons for my actions and thoughts. I believe that to constantly question why it is that you behave and think a certain way is an important part of growing up. If you stop questioning yourself, your motives, your choices, you fall into a pattern of acceptance - and quiet acceptance doesn't help or change anything.

But I'm drifting. Let me come back with my point in tow. I am an extremely judgemental person. And this week, someone told me off about it so I decided I would try to explain it to myself. The result of which is below:

I have friends who are so vastly different that seating them all at one table would be a near disaster. But what they all have in common is a certain ambition, intelligence and flair about them. My friends contribute positively to the person that I am and the life that I lead, and most of all, to the world around them. We share knowledge and inspire new thoughts in each other. And this is the standard I demand of all people in my life. If you don't make it, I don't include you.

Show me your friends and I'll show you your future. I heard that once and I never forgot it. I make a point of assessing the people in my life. But that assessment falls into judgement. Judgement, I think, is one of those things that's hard wired into us, starting way back in time with self preservation in mind. You had to make snap judgements about other people, situations and environments and we've carried that through the ages until now.

I've always been criticised for it. I can acknowledge that it is a flaw. I try hard to be open to people and different ideas and thoughts. I really do. But coming to university, learning what I have learnt, I have come to judge most severely those who stand in the middle ground. The middle ground is worse than being wrong about something. A person who is wrong has at least some respect for the responsibility of making a choice whereas a person in the middle ground abdicates that responsibility entirely. The middle ground condemns both the robbed and robber to the same jail cell. And that abdication, however meaningless it may seem to you - your choice not to be involved in politics or environmentalism or anything really - is what has lead us to a world of apathetic people.

And I don't mean that we are all supposed to become activists or politicians or writers, I mean living a life consciously. I mean contributing towards something more than yourself. If you abdicate all responsibility to the world, what are you left thinking about and living for? Just yourself?

"People are so busy dreaming the American Dream, fantasizing about what they could be or have a right to be, that they're all asleep at the switch. Consequently we are living in the Age of Human Error." (Florence King)

There used to be a time when ducking your head into the sand and pretending that nothing mattered except you, was okay. People kept their heads down and chose to stand on the sidelines. They lived out their lives, happy inside their bubble. But unfortunately for us that is not a luxury we are afforded. We are facing a dark, heavy future if everyone doesn't wake up now. In our lifetime, things are going to change drastically - either for the better or the worse. And uninvolvement? Not an option, any more. I judge most severely the people who choose the American Dream. The American dream is pretentious and selfish and only concerned with a lifestyle of comfort.

The whole point of the dream is to depoliticise people, to make them worry more about themselves and their own lives than the bigger picture. After only three years of university, I feel like I see with so much more clarity than I did before. I can't hide from the world any more. Even decisions that used to be completely personal and individual have become globalised. How will I make my dream of being a mother come true when I don't know what hell I might be delivering my children into?

And so. I  will sit on my high and mighty horse and I will not let you believe that it is acceptable to withdraw from reality. I will judge you if you have access to education, the opportunity to learn and contribute and turn away from it. I will judge you if you choose to ignore what you know. I will judge you if you are making no valid contribution. Because there's no time left.  Being judgemental may be my sin but I wonder if ignorance is a bigger one? 

I end with a little piece from one of my favourite journalists George Monbiot from his 'Career Advice'. 

"So my final piece of advice is this: when faced with the choice between engaging with reality or engaging with what Erich Fromm calls the “necrophiliac” world of wealth and power, choose life, whatever the apparent costs may be. Your peers might at first look down on you: poor Nina, she’s twenty-six and she still doesn’t own a car. But those who have put wealth and power above life are living in the world of death, in which the living put their tombstones – their framed certificates signifying acceptance to that world – on their walls. Remember that even the editor of the Times, for all his income and prestige, is still a functionary, who must still take orders from his boss. He has less freedom than we do, and being the editor of the Times is as good as it gets. You know you have only one life. You know it is a precious, extraordinary, unrepeatable thing: the product of billions of years of serendipity and evolution. So why waste it by handing it over to the living dead?"



  1. A really well-written piece, if contentious in areas. I agree strongly with most of the argument around apathy and refusing to get involved - apathy is to ignorance what rape is to seduction.
    However, I would add the proviso that there is not always a right or wrong answer, so in this sense, sometimes occupying the middle ground signifies a more informed position.
    As long as the middle ground is taken to be apathy and not a considered opinion, I agree with you and second your ideas heartily!
    Alexander Pope is useful in the awakening education brings:

    "A little learning is a dang'rous Thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring: There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
    And drinking largely sobers us again.
    Fir'd at first Sight with what the Muse imparts,
    In fearless Youth we tempt the Heights of Arts,
    While from the bounded Level of our Mind,
    Short Views we take, nor see the Lengths behind,
    But more advanc'd, behold with strange Suprize
    New, distant Scenes of endless Science rise!
    So pleas'd at first, the towring Alps we try,
    Mount o'er the Vales, and seem to tread the Sky;
    Th' Eternal Snows appear already past,
    The first Clouds and Mountains seem the last:
    But those attain'd, we tremble to survey
    The growing Labours of the lengthen'd Way,
    Th' increasing Prospect tires our wandring Eyes,
    Hills peep o'er Hills, and Alps on Alps arise!"

    1. Thank you so much. I apologise the late reply, university sometimes takes over my life. Yes, I agree, the middle ground for me means apathy but I can definitely see how a considered, impartial opinion can be the middle ground too. I didn't think about that.

      I actually remember reading part of that piece in high school for something or other. :) Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I hope you stop by again soon.


  2. This really could have been written by me. That tends to be why I lose friends, because I am so judgmental. But I don't get to upset about it because I believe everyone, including myself, is entitled to their opinion. Making conscious decisions about life and the type of person you want to be is part of growing up. So when my friend does something that I believe is wrong, I'm going to say so. It doesn't automatically mean I think you're a terrible person, but I do think you're doing a bad thing. Most people can't separate the two though.

    1. That's true and people also expect that because you're friends, you're always on their side or something like that. I really would rather have friends who told me if they thought I was doing something wrong or stupid.
      I actually told my boyfriend a few days ago that we should live on an island by ourselves because I keep getting into fights with people and I'm tired of it. :P Haha.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I hope you stop by again, looking forward to hearing from you again!