The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “judgmental” as: 1. of, relating to, or involving judgment; 2. characterized by a tendency to judge harshly. Obviously, then, being non-judgmental would be the opposite, that is, someone who does not choose judgement or tend to judge harshly.
I’ve always tended to believe – and to say – that I have been non-judgmental for most of my life. Perhaps having empathic abilities and being able to feel what others are feeling makes me less apt to judge them, because I am able to have those feelings for them. Also, growing up with a dad who was very judgmental about other people and two parents who were always worried about how other people judged them, led me to wanting to become the antithesis of all of that.
But recently, I’ve become aware that, while not spoken or shared, I do instinctively make judgments about people, usually first impression ones. And I’m going to challenge you here by daring to say that, in fact, we are all judgmental!
It’s taken me a few days to process, absorb and accept that about myself. I only now realize that how I considered myself to be non-judgmental is really more truly away of stating that I’m a liberal. I am open to accepting various sexual preferences, women’s rights to control their own bodies, different religions, and even different political beliefs.
Here is what the Bible says about casting judgment: Matthew 7:1-5 1 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Luke 6:37 37 says, “Do not judge , and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
But, although we do not share or truly feel judgment against anyone, we all still make instant judgments based on first impressions, most often visual ones. See someone in layers of tattered, dirty clothing and we immediately think ‘homeless’. See a woman in provocative clothing, high heels and heavy makeup walking on the city streets after dark and we immediately think ‘prostitute’. These types of instant judgment are made based on our environment and what we were taught by our elders and people of authority. A young child being raised by two moms or two dads doesn’t see ‘gay’ because they have not been taught that ‘gay’ is a thing! If it was branded into your brain that a couple must consist of a man and a women, you’re likely to be very much less tolerant of their family structure.
I’ve made enough revolutions around the sun to remember when an interracial couple was seriously seen as disgusting and wrong. Dating anyone from a different race was seen as even worse than dating someone from a different religion! Now…. now it’s a common thing and most people don’t even think about it anymore (except for the true racists). Now, people of different races all over the world aren’t shunned or looked down on anymore for choosing a partner from a race different than their own.
But still, still, we make our instantaneous judgments of people every day of our lives! A grumpy cashier is judged to be mean, a person of a different political persuasion is seen as an idiot, pretty much anybody who does or chooses anything different from us is judged in one way or another. What’s truly important, for humanity now and in the future, is that we keep our judgments to ourselves and not let them be reflected to or on anyone else. I think that’s why I’ve always disliked gossipers (though a little part of me likes knowing the latest scoop!), because gossip is closely whispered negativity about some one else. Two neighbors don’t gossip about the fact that the gal across the street who was just elected as a member of the town’s council, because that’s great news that can be shared with anyone! But let that same gal make a mistake of any kind, and the gossipers will be out in droves to talk about it!
Now, I dare each of you who has read this far to take a moment and really ponder where you measure on the judgmental versus non-judgmental scale. I’m going to continue to say that I consider myself non-judgmental because I don’t act or react on my judgments. But yea, sometimes I make them, and I bet you do, too….