Last week I had a couple of rather unsavoury experiences that have really got me thinking. Common sense tells me it’s always wise to let the dust settle before broaching a topic that’s really touched a nerve, but I’m getting this one out now because I really dislike the festering feeling I’ve been left with.
I’m not going to go into any major details, not least because it’s fairly niche and not hugely interesting to others, but twice last week I got the sharp end of a few tongues for ‘being judgemental’. And it really, really pissed me off.
Now, this is not a personal whinge about what others think of me. Honestly, I knew I was correct in what I’d said and couldn’t care less about the opinions of those I barely know. No, this is more of an open question that I hope we can start asking ourselves more often.
Why is the notion of judgement so dirty?
The premise of the situation I encountered last week revolved around some people I know of scamming members of the public near where I live. This scam involves convincing others of their misfortune when in actual fact it’s just not true.
People’s kindness meant that these scammers were making cash, clothes and gifts out of the generosity of others, and I was most disturbed to see someone actually offer to give up floor space in their house to them.
Now, I know that these people are on the con. I know this for a fact. So I said as much, provided actual proof and warned others to just be careful – I couldn’t have it on my conscience if someone had opened up their home to these crooks and ended up robbed, attacked or worse and all the while I’d said nothing.
The response I got from a few genuinely surprised me.
“Who are you to decide who’s in need and who’s not, shame on you. You could start by being less judgemental. I don’t judge, unlike you. Karma will get you, of that I am sure. You should be ashamed for being so judgemental.”
The glaring irony of making sweeping assertions about someone else aside, this particular man couldn’t seem to wrap his head around one thing in particular. I was happy to judge. I am happy to judge people who think it’s acceptable to deceive others for their own gains. I have no problem with that.
What I do have trouble understanding is why people seem more affronted by the notion of judgement than of crime.
Our society is ruled by judgement. We have laws, social codes, right and wrong. We are all entitled to, and in fact, do, whether we realise it or not, make judgements about every aspect of an encounter we have in our daily lives. Judgement is what helps us to navigate the world safely.
We make judgements on the right kind of behaviour, the right choices, the wrong route to go down, the right influences to follow and the characteristics that we deem to be wrong. Our sense of judgement teaches us which path to choose, always.
Judgement is what makes us who we are, and that is not a bad thing. Honestly, when did it become normal to use the term ‘judgemental’ as a slur?
I’m judgemental. And I don’t give a shit about saying it. It annoys me massively that people think that having a strong sense of judgement is a negative quality. If someone acts in a way that’s criminal – I judge that to be criminal behaviour. If someone acts in a kind and caring manner, I judge them as being a kind and caring person.
Our sense of judgement is what helps us find the right and wrong in life. The good people and the bad people. It’s what keeps us safe and decent.
Judgement is your moral code. Own it, and don’t let anyone try and make you feel like crap about it either, because the ones who shout proudly that they don’t judge are the ones that sit back and allow evil actions and bad behaviour to become the norm. If all of us did that, we’d be in a lawless mess fairly sharpish.
For what it’s worth, I honestly think we need to realign our understanding of the word judgement. To be judgemental does not mean you have to be a stuck-up, nasty person. It just means that you have to use your moral compass and be prepared to voice the unpopular opinion when you see something that is unjust.
That’s what my sense of judgement is, and I will not be made to feel ashamed of it.
Writer, tweeter and illustrator. Starving artist and thrifting expert. Pen for hire and first-time author at work.