Here Comes Da Judge

The other day my wife told me that I tend to be too judgmental which I’m pretty sure wasn’t a compliment. But if she’s right, that’s not for me to say. So of course it got me thinking, as most things my wife says, do. I started with a detailed examination of her comment. She didn’t say I was judgmental, she said I was TOO judgmental. It’s always a tough one when an activity is acceptable in certain doses. Like it’s okay to drink – as long as you don’t drink too much. And who makes that decision? The drinker? That happens a lot. I’ve often said only a guy who’s had 9 beers would think a 10th beer was a good idea. So the outside world, or as it’s more commonly known, your wife, makes the call when what you think is enough, is actually too much. Now I agree completely with the concept that a certain amount of judgmental behaviour is a good thing. When you come face to face with a rattlesnake or a biker gang or a women’s activist group, you need to be judgmental. You need to react. You need to be somewhere else. The ability to avoid life threatening situations is why we have ancestors. If your great-great-great-great-great grandfather had just gone willy-nilly out into the wilderness without making judgments between good and bad ideas, he would have lost both his willy and his nilly. I’m not saying being judgmental is good or bad – at least not yet – what I am saying is that being judgmental is natural. Maybe even essential. That’s based on the theory that survival is a priority. So when you meet someone for the first time, it’s natural that you will be judging them at least to the point of identifying whether or not they’re a threat. Do they look angry? Do they seem tense? Are they packing heat? Do they smell bad? If they pass those tests, they move on to Round 2. Now you’re trying to find out if they’re smart and/or amusing and do you want to continue your conversation or never speak to them again for the rest of your life. If they pass that test, they get into the semi-finals, which is you finding out if they have common areas of interest or common social or employment experiences or political viewpoints. If you get a match in those areas, you are on your way to becoming friends. That’s because, although they say opposites attract, we much prefer to be with people who are just like us. It’s less work, you don’t have to watch what you say and do and, most importantly, when their life choices match yours, it’s a subtle re-affirmation of you and everything you stand for. That’s a feel-good moment. It’s called ‘group-think’ these days and it’s natural and not even a bad thing, unless the group is wrong. When that happens, it starts an evolution where the more independent thinkers drop out of the group, causing the group to re-think their position and, if they’re presented with overwhelming relentless evidence, they will all agree to change their minds, which will eventually bring the dissidents back into the fold and re-establish that ‘all for one and one for all’ warm, fuzzy feeling. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Or at least NOT ENOUGH wrong with it. Besides it’s human nature and both humans and nature change very very slowly. All of that aspect of being judgmental is fine in my book. Where we run into problems is when we start judging things on either the wrong information or no information at all. We make up our minds before we find out about the person or the product or the service or the accident or the timeshare. But that’s not being judgmental, that’s being PRE-judgmental. That’s where the word ‘prejudice’ comes from. That’s a bad thing for everybody but it’s especially bad for the victim of the prejudice. So I’m now ready to translate the true meaning of my wife’s complaint. What she was actually saying was ‘It’s okay to be judgmental but don’t get ahead of yourself.’