A young friend of mine told me the other day that our democracy in
is defined by the freedom
for anyone to say anything to anyone anytime. Maldives
I thought this was a very good opportunity to discuss with him, and through this blog on this negative and irksome human quality of passing judgment on each other. One of the most important tests of the maturity of an individual is the ability to control this urge to judge others. Of course a judge in a court-of-law will have to make judgments no doubt, or intellectual discourses of critical thinking would entail making judgment. But these are formalized processes that require analysis and synthesis arising out of processes that require meting out justice or forging innovations to our walks of life, as the case may be. These cases are about formative or summative thinking - not a nattering in our spare time about people in our lives. Judgment is also a natural step in taking daily decisions and we make many such decisions during the course of a day. Even to know what to eat for lunch is a judgment call to choose from all what's available on a menu or in our mind. That is fine because that doesn't involve another person on whom you opine.
But when someone else is involved as in how we saw someone did something or said something or happened to appear to us, unsolicited comments or advice doesn't merely fall on deaf ears but hurts and irritates. We know how it feels when we are commented upon and judged by others. So why should we do this to others? It is in fact a transgression of personal space, the protection of which is an individual right in a civilized society and so goes in a democracy that is exercised in a civilized manner. Our habit of constant judging or snarky remarks is more than liable to be taken as impertinence or something that can draw a response to mind our own business. Incidentally, the golden rule comes in very handy here to help us keep check of our own such breaches of conduct. Don’t do to others what you wouldn't like others to do to you!!
Learning to live a non-judgmental lifestyle can be a very hard thing - especially in a society where everyone goes by a tradition of not respecting each others private space or where gossip is accepted as entertainment. Whether done directly or indirectly, gossip is about passing judgment on others – most often in the negative sense. And even though some can laugh off the sting through a good dose of detachment, most times for most of us, these hurt and leave scars in the memory. Tit-for-tats may then lead to prolonged emotional distance and discord.
Nurturing a harmonious society begins with being non-judgmental. It is only then that we can open our minds to listen to another with deep attention, to listen and learn from tweaking out the wisdom in someone else's words, and allowing it to enrich us. It is then that we can begin to move forward on this path to social harmony. Just like each one of us feeling we always have the right opinions and answers, why should we not think that others may also have good ideas? Ultimately it is our ego that ties us to being selfish and divisive and not wanting to listen to others because the ego can survive only in divisive and competitive social conditions where it must win and others lose.
Being non-judgmental and acquiring a detached frame of mind can suppress such offensives of the ego. This is one sure test of a skill for a responsible individual in viable democracy.