Judge not others and fear not their judgement

In all the world religions we learn that we should not judge others. One of the reasons that we should not do this is that we really don’t know them or their situation in life. They may be doing something that is considered destructive in society such as committing a crime. But we don’t know all the things they have been through that have led them to a point of desperation in which they came to a crossroads and felt inclined to choose that path. And we also have no way of knowing whether we would or wouldn’t do the exact same thing if faced with the same situation and life experience. This is one important reason why we should not judge others.

Another reason is simply that we do not know that person; in fact, we cannot even fully know those people we are closest to. We are all connected as one human family, but in another sense, we are also islands unto ourselves. We experience the world from the seat of our own subjectivity and are incapable of fully knowing a person and seeing the world through their eyes. And just as we cannot fully know another person, we cannot fully understand their reasons for doing things or fully comprehend the complete meaning of their actions. Only they can. What may appear to be destructive behaviour to them may be liberating. What seems standoffish and antisocial to them may be peaceful and considerate. We just don’t know.

Because of this truth, that we do not fully know those we judge, the essence of our judgements of other people is based around our own personal hang-ups. We then project these issues onto others and form judgements around them. So really, we are judging ourselves but diverting it to others.

These are the reasons why we should do our best to withhold from judging others. But on the flip side of this is something very liberating for all of us. Just as we should not judge others, we should not fear others' judgment. Because we cannot fully know another person and the meaning and purpose behind their actions, they too can never fully comprehend us. And because their judgments of us are really judgements of themselves, then we don’t need to fear their judgement. It is like we become invisible to them. They can see an apparition of their own issues draped over us, but they cannot fully see us. We reside behind the walls of our own consciousness. And this separateness, in this sense, is very comforting and protective. 

This, of course, does present a paradox: we are together yet alone, separate but part of one inter-subjective social network. As social beings we need to strive to understand others while withholding our judgement of them. As individuals we need to relish our individuality while sharing our lives with others.

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