Ethical Quandaries: Is it Always Wrong to Judge?
This is the first in a mini-series in which I examine closely a few modern ethical quandaries, which have only become quandaries because people make them so. When one cuts through the bullshit, understanding them is actually very simple and even liberating.
In this article, I begin the series by asking the question: “Is it always wrong to judge?” Today, it has become extremely fashionable to say that “We must never judge” or “We have no right to judge another”. In fact, it has become a kind of litmus test about your credibility as a decent human being. If you judge others, so they say, you cannot be spiritual or a good person. How has this idea that it is always wrong to judge come about? I think it is partly because people confuse the words “judge” and “judgemental”. To be a judgemental person means that one habitually comes to thoughtless, mean or unfounded and condemnatory conclusions about other people, which is obviously not a helpful frame of mind, for oneself or for building a community based on love and grace.
However, being judgemental about people is not the same as making a judgement about them. If, in order to avoid being “judgemental”, we stop making any kind of judgement whatsoever, then we have thrown out the baby with the bathwater! We have to judge in order to weigh things up in life, to make informed and intelligent choices. That is what I call righteous or just judgement (about which I will say much more below). For example, if someone comes to my door and wants to read my electricity meter but has no supporting credentials, then I would be very reasonable in judging that person to be a possible impostor or thief. If a woman is walking down a lonely street late at night and sees a large group of rough-looking, drunken men walking towards her, she would be foolish to say, “I must not judge”, in that situation. Then of course we have the added pressure in those circumstances not to make a judgement in case we are violating the rigid rules of political correctness. “Am I being snobby if I see them as hostile?” or, if the rowdy group was made up of dark-skinned people, “Am I being racist?” However, self-preservation and the prevention of crime are more important than social niceties when faced with potential hostilities.
More examples: If I am renting out an apartment and interviewing potential tenants, I have to make a judgement about those people. Not just anyone is going to live there. If someone is making overtures to be a friend or lover, then I am going to vet them carefully and make a judgement about whether they will be a boon or a bind in my life. Not just anyone is going to get into my intimate circle. Is that wrong? Most certainly not. This is a world of deception and we are living in an evil age; and anyone who doesn’t realise that is going to have many unpleasant surprises. If no one ever made any kind of judgement, the world would quickly run into even more chaos than there already is, and so would our lives. In order to make our way through this wilderness of a world which is full of ruthless psychopathic men and crazy narcissistic women with no sense of morality, altruism or decency, it is vital for us to make judgements many times per day — not only about situations but about people. Even those who accuse you of “judging”, and criticising you for it, have themselves made a judgement about you being judging! Thus, when people claim it is wrong to judge they are actually being hypocritical!
The people who say “You shall not judge” are very often quoting (whether they realise it or not) Christ in the bible (or Yeshua ben Yosef, to use his real name in Hebrew). He famously said, “Judge not, lest you yourself be judged”. Was he condemning all forms of judgement? No, not at all. For that would contradict so many other places where he was highly condemning of the religious bigshots of his time, who he called to their faces and judged them with such epithets as “hypocrites”, “blind guides”, and even more explicitly he said to them: “You are like whitewashed tombs — beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity!” Imagine saying that to the Archbishop of Canterbury or Grand Imam today! 😊 Christ called it for real; and when he said, “Judge not, lest you yourself be judged”, he was specifically referring to hypocritical judgement whereby we condemn someone else for something of which we are actually guilty ourselves. That is clearly the context of his statement if one takes the trouble to read it. Here is the full context of those words about judging others:
“Judge not, lest you yourself be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
So the context shows that it was not the mere process of judging itself which Christ was condemning but hypocritical judgement by which one judges others about something which one practises oneself. It is always important to take quotations in their context otherwise we will use them incorrectly.
This unwillingness to make any form of judgement for fear of appearing to be judgemental has got way out of hand today and has resulted in very many undesirable circumstances. And when it is coupled with the effects of wilful ignorance then those circumstances can descend into sheer evil. For example, in late 2002/early 2003, some brave people actually dared to say: “There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is a lie”. They even had the evidence to prove it. This was entirely contrary to the claims of the US government and their puppet media (including all the so-called liberal media). Yet they were immediately reviled in the media and buried in a welter of abuse, soon becoming persona non-grata or even being sacked from their jobs. So the world’s leaders and most of the world’s population stood idly by and turned a blind eye while one of the greatest deceptions and acts of genocide in recent history took place, beginning in April 2003 with the invasion of Iraq and still continuing to this day. Most of the world’s population weren’t much bothered about it at the time either. A convenient wave of wilful ignorance fell over the human race as the warmongers carried out their deeds with virtually no opposition. People are fearful to call it as it is, to make “negative” judgements, especially when most of the world is lined up against us in disagreement. Such an unwillingness to make just and legitimate judgements about that evil lie doesn’t lag very far behind in terms of paving the way for the evil to flourish. Being non-judgemental when public judgement is called-for results in evil consequences. In that instance, the consequence was genocide and the destruction of many young men’s minds as they were caught up in the evil as soldiers. There are times when we have to stand up and make a clear judgement and call people out as liars, thieves, betrayers and hypocrites in order to expose evil and injustice.
I would say that it is very necessary to make judgements on a regular basis — not out of malice but because of the need for due diligence. It is part of the process of being a discerning human being. For there are forces at work today which do not want us to make judgements. I am not referring merely to those human forces of evil who are the powermongers of the world, but also to the discarnate forces of evil which empower them, and which are secretly behind the mayhem of this age. So many have now become completely brainwashed with this idea of “You should not judge”. It runs right alongside the similarly snowflaky idea that we must only ever think about positive things and never allow a single negative thought to permeate our brains. One sees it everywhere on social media. “Stop judging!” they say (without even realising that by accusing you of judging, they have made a judgement about you themselves!). Why would this be? Why do the dark powers behind this present evil age (and all their undiscerning lackeys and apparatchiks) want you never to make judgements? (By the way, if you don’t know the answers to that question, then you have no right to chastise someone for judging). Here are some possible answers:
Firstly, they do not want you to judge because they want to prevent you from exposing the truth (and others from discovering it) — especially about what they are doing in the world to drag it down into this quagmire of amorality and chaos. Secondly, they want to keep you in a naïve fog of ignorance and stupidity. Thirdly, they want to render you into a state of being that I call “destructively tolerant”. To be so tolerant of everything is counterproductive to the healthy development of society, for there are some things which should never be tolerated. Fourthly, they want to create the ideal conditions in which the self-centred evil which characterises this dying aeon can flourish. This tsunami of people telling us that “We should never judge” is not without its context. It’s as if the forces of darkness have got them all by “the short and curlies”, making them spout their mantra with self-righteous smugness. So if you say to me, “You have no right to judge!”, my reply would be: “Actually, I do”. In fact, it is not so much my right to judge as it is MY DUTY to do so!
In part, this idea that we must never judge has also come about because people have become so narcissistic that they cannot take the smallest hint of reality or truth about themselves. Frankly, if I discovered that someone thought that I was overweight, I would not respond with “You have no right to judge me” but, rather, “Thanks for the heads-up! That’s just the kick in the ass I needed to start looking after myself and stop eating in KFC and McD every day”. (Just so you know, before you start getting on my case, I don’t! I’m speaking hypothetically 😊). However, there are ways of letting someone know that they need a lifestyle change. If you say to someone, “Shape up, you fat-assed lump of lard!”, then that is cruel and judgemental. Seasoning judgement with grace and righteousness is the right way to go about it. I wouldn’t dream of telling someone who I do not know that they are fat. But I would consider it my duty to tell a friend that I’m concerned about his or her health because of the paunch (though even that today is likely to result in me being accused of “fat-shaming!”). Mutual judging is a lost art in friendships today. At one time, one could rely on one’s friends or even acquaintances to inform us if we are in need of an upgrade in our lives or behaviour. We really shouldn’t mind being judged and weighed on the scales and found wanting. It is very easy to distinguish between those judgements which are malicious and those which are propitious. The latter we should welcome, for the universe has ways of communicating with us through the well-meaning mouths of others. Even out of the mouths of babes…, etc.
There are some guidelines which should be followed when we are called on to judge, so here is a major caveat about judging: Always judge with righteousness. This means that we must season our judgement with wisdom and grace. Someone may ask: “But if I start judging people won’t I become judgemental?” The answer is that if you always judge righteously you will never be judgemental. What do I mean by “righteous judgement”? First, righteous judgement means only judging when it is necessary. We must be sparing in our judgements. If we judge righteously we will never judge gratuitously, in situations in which it is uncalled for. Second, righteous judgement is always determined by the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. If we judge people in ways that we would not like to be judged ourselves then we are hypocrites. We must only ever judge concerning matters about which we do not mind being judged ourselves. Thirdly, righteous judgement means that we do not judge others concerning something which we have not dealt with in ourselves. As we saw above, that is precisely the context in which Christ said: “Do not judge others, lest you yourselves be judged”. People very often accuse others of something of which they themselves are guilty. This is what commonly happens in inflammatory arguments. It’s what is known in psychology as “projection”. We must be sure not to have things undealt with in our hearts which we project on others before we pass judgement on them, otherwise one is not judging righteously but hypocritically. In other words, we should be sure that we are continually self-aware and judge ourselves so that we cauterise our hearts with the fire of cleansing, so our judgement comes from a place of contemplative beauty rather than compulsive condemnation. Fourthly, righteous judgement means that on the occasions when it is necessary for us to judge, we do so with love in our hearts rather than malice. It is easy to be maliciously judgemental, but it takes sensitivity, empathy and true wisdom to judge righteously. For instance, take one of the examples I gave above — a man claiming to be from the electricity department wants to come into my house but has no credentials. If I was to say: “You can just fuck off, you con man! Take one step in here and I’ll break both your fucking legs!”, that is being gratuitously malicious along with the judgement. One only needs to be firm and polite, with a genuine smile. This is righteous judgement. Judging with righteousness means that one is making a judgement under the auspices of the Light by which we should live. In fact, it is very wise to ask the Light for wisdom concerning how to deal with the situations in which we find we may have to judge.
So now I hope we will not be intimidated by those who are so quick to tell us sharply not to judge. They do so from a position of ignorance and are themselves being judgemental. It is our duty as discerning lovers of the Light to judge when it is necessary to do so, for there is much darkness posing as light in this world, which we should expose in a welter of Light and love rather than with which we should collaborate.
© Alan Morrison, 2017
*Coming next in this Ethical Quandaries mini-series:
#2: “Is there Such a Thing as Absolute Truth or is it Always Relative?”
#3: “Do Good and Evil Really Exist? If so, why?”