At some point in your life you’ve probably been told that it is unacceptable, or not ‘nice’ to judge situations or other people. However, I think this indoctrination may be due to a lack of understanding. It reminds me of my favorite lines from The Princess Bride, proclaimed by Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
After much indoctrination to the contrary, I am going to (once again) stand out on a limb and proclaim that I think judgment is not only a good thing to do, it’s also a smart thing to do. However, only if that judgment is conducted according to the dictionary definition of the word.
First we start with the definition, since I feel that is the root of the problem. People think they know what the word means, but may not really. Keep in mind that for a along time I blindly accepted that it was wrong to judge in general, and specifically wrong to judge other people.
judgment [juhj-muh nt] noun
1. an act or instance of judging.
2. the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion.
3. the demonstration or exercise of such ability or capacity.
4. the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind.
I want to focus on #2 and #4 above.
To me, these two definitions are the crux of my argument. Notice that in #2 it includes the phrase, “form an opinion objectively”; and in #4 it includes the phrase “from circumstances presented to the mind”. In other words, judgment isn’t based on feelings or emotions alone (although that could be a component). Judgment is based on facts and objectively gathered data points.
Therefore, if you notice that a person shares information that you know to be factually inaccurate, you should judge the person and the situation. Based upon one data point, you should not draw a conclusive decision or final judgment. However, if you gather multiple examples that all support your first data point, you should judge that person as dishonest. Because you have the objective information to form this opinion. Judging a person as honest or dishonest is a critical life skill. If someone shares something with you that you think is completely outlandish, it’s important to weigh that judgment against the other objective information you have about this person. Although I don’t feel judgment should be based on one piece of information, I do think judgment is useful in determining whom you want to surround yourself with and from whom you want to steer clear.
What are YOUR thoughts on judgment?
I like that the actual definition of judgement makes it seem more like using your discretion and not absolute condemnation.
I agree, Bethany. I think discernment is truly the key.
1. The act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment.
2. Keenness of insight and judgment.
Thank you for your comment!