Don't Judge, Unless You Should
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Politics and Activism

Don't Judge, Unless You Should

What does it mean to judge someone?

Don't Judge, Unless You Should
Wikipedia Commons


verb: judge; 3rd person present: judges; past tense: judged; past participle: judged; gerund or present participle: judging

  1. 1.

form an opinion or conclusion about.

This is a google definition of the verb form of the word “judge.” Rephrased, it means to use the information available to decide your beliefs about something. Just as it is in the justice system, a judge does not have every bit of information and is sometimes wrong, but s/he makes an educated guess. Depending on the amount of information, the guess will be more or less educated.

Notice that despite the current American culture’s use of the term “to judge,” judging is not inherently a bad thing to do according to this definition. There is nothing wrong with forming conclusions about people, as long as they are made with care and not clung to unreasonably. In fact, judging others is part of what it means to be human. As humans though, judging people also includes forming perceptions about their characters. Despite the issues this can cause, this is also not inherently wrong and is the only logical way to judge people. But our society has gotten a hold of the idea of judging people, deeming the action unintelligent at best and sometimes nearly monstrous.

Imagine you go to a college with a rather conservative dress code. There are a group of students who always seem to break it heavily, showing lots of skin. Now, there is a second group of students who feel that because the rebels agreed to go to the school, it is wrong for them to break the rules without a great need.

Even if this second group is wrong, is it okay for them to consider all the information available—the students are breaking dress code heavily and do not seem to have a pressing reason—and to then judge the rebels as rather poor in character or maturity? Indeed, the ability to make judgments like these are part of what it means to be human, and they should not be frowned upon.

If a third party finds out about how they perceive the rebels and says “Wow, I can’t believe you’re judging them, that’s so wrong,” perhaps this party is actually the incorrect one in this situation. Instead, perhaps they can convince the second group of students that the rebels are actually not objectively breaking dress code or that this particular code should be publicly rebelled against. But if these and other justifications fail to excuse the students, it is not wrong for the second group to judge their characters.

This line of reasoning can be dangerous, however, because it may be used as an excuse for misusing the ability to judge people. The second group of students should be allowed to think poorly of the rebels for their choice to break dress code—it should not be considered wrong that they are judging this group. This does not mean it should be acceptable for them to go around telling everyone how immoral and immature the rebels are, for example. This is not just judging them, this is are attacking them, even if indirectly.

In your personal life, times come when you see or hear of people doing things you consider wrong, even when others consider it perfectly fine. Despite what society has been pushing lately, judging these people is not immoral even if it reduces your opinion of them. The alternative is to conclude that although these people are doing something wrong, it says nothing bad about their characters or beliefs, and this is illogical to say the least.

Instead of spending time trying not to judge people, we should spend time on improving how we treat these people. Part of becoming adults is recognizing that sometimes humans do bad things as a result of poor parts of their characters, and yet still being able to treat them with respect as equals. And of course, if we judge others we should be prepared to be judged just as harshly as the level we used against them.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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