On Judging People

The last Judgment - an icon 17th cent. from Li...

The last Judgment – an icon 17th cent. from Lipie, Historic Museum in Sanok, Poland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the Book of Matthew Chapter 7, verse 1 Jesus says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”  Traditionally I took this to mean, do not judge other people because you don’t like being judged yourself and if you judge other people then you open the door for them to judge you back.  Implicit in this interpretation is the idea that everyone has some flaw worthy of judgment.

Before I worked from home I worked in an office.  My adjacent cubicle neighbor was a very judgmental person who was always criticizing other people to me behind their backs.  One day she came into work with a really depressed look on her face.  The idea struck me that she was depressed because she was judging and criticizing herself just like she criticized and judged other people and it was making her feel horrible.  I base this assumption on personal experience.  I am also guilty of judging other people.  The judgment originates from a very active voice in my head that will never pass up an opportunity to point out how I should feel humiliated or ashamed because of my actions.  It also judges other people.

So now I take what Jesus said in the Book of Matthew to mean, if you judge other people you will judge yourself and constantly judging yourself feels horrible.  This makes sense to a point but Jesus goes on to talk about hypocrites and how you should not criticize a person for having a mote in their eye when you have a beam in your own.  So with that in mind it does seem like he is saying it is hypocritical to judge someone else when you yourself are equally (or perhaps more) worthy of being judged.  Either way, judging makes the object of judgment feel horrible (ashamed) even though Jesus does not address that point directly.

Judgment is also self-perpetuating because a person who judges himself and others does so from a place of shame.  He judges himself because he feels shame.  He judges others to make himself feel less shameful about himself in comparison to the other.  This shame is linked to  the illusion that judgment is upholding standards upon which civilization is maintained.  If the standards are not maintained then civilization is undermined (so goes the theory).  I happen to believe that upholding standards is a good thing.  But it seems to me that it would be better to hold up standards without judging because judging is shaming and makes people feel shitty.

In a sense it is impossible to not judge because judgment comes from that critical voice in your head.  However, you do have the ability to separate yourself from that voice by observing it without believing it is you.  You don’t have to go along with the judgment of either yourself or anyone else.  Judge not lest ye be judged.

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Filed under Judging, Shame

One response to “On Judging People

  1. Pingback: 10 Reasons to Rethink Going to Law School | Winston Scrooge

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