We live in a strange world, do we not? It is strange by all means and is the habitat of the strangest of all living things- the human being. The human being has been given the highest and noblest state of all things living and yet it is the human being who complicates things otherwise simplistic in nature.
It is perhaps the nature of things that is the most difficult to understand and requires patience, knowledge and wisdom to comprehend in absolute totality the nature of things. However, we never ponder over this and continue to strive for a better life; which may never come to be without putting heed to how we need to live our lives. We cannot live in a nutshell, we have to interact with other people. Life can only be lived in the full spectrum of its colours that are around us all yet we divide ourselves in classes and catagories thereby making it difficult for ourselves and others around us to live in peace and harmony with each others. One of the biggest social evils that exists amongst us is being judgemental of others. This is a monster that makes good people bad and bad people good to a degree where artificiality and fabrication dance in the realm of ignorance. However, we keep on living in this world of dreams because we choose the easier way out of things by nature. it is indeed judging people and things that is a big evil that we are not even aware of that is crushing us from deep inside and darkening our souls and destroying our societies at large.
We have become judgmental in nature. I believe that this is the most common and usual thing that we do in our lives today. Judging others is a part of our daily lives today without knowing how bad and unworthy a trait it is to possess; we carry on doing it every instant. Merely this simple thing that we do has adverse effects on the human development and growth yet we carry on doing so without even noticing it for a single second. It exists in every woman and man of the society today and is within itself the greatest testimony of our ignorance. We may become educated yet we shall remain ignorant till we understand for a fact that we shall need to stop judging in order to embrace life and celebrate diversity without which actual progress may never be achieved.
A man enters a room full of people and he is instantly judged even before he speaks. The clothes that he is wearing and the way he may appear is enough for people to judge his nature and him. This forms a sort of prejudice against him yet we continue to do so without knowing what we are doing. This is the reason why it is said that appearances may be deceiving however we go on doing that unintentionally as we are mechanised and programmed in to doing so given that everybody around us does so and therefore it is more of a social norm that one catches automatically.
It is even worse when he starts to speak because he shall further be judged by his language. Language and not words meaning appearance and not thought. This is a killer and yet we take it as an antidote because understanding requires effort whereas judging is easier. It was the psychologist Carl Jung who once said, “Thinking is difficult. That is why most people judge.” Isn’t it still the same today not only for a particular society but also throughout the world we live in? In order to ascertain the true nature of things and of people, one needs thinking, which is by far difficult and that is why most people resort to something easier- and that is judging. We are always advised not to judge a book by its cover but that is what we mostly do. It is in the human nature perhaps, to resort to easier ways and therefore, we quickly judge and move on not understanding that it forms a prejudice against the person being judged and ignorance upon the person judging others.
Almost everybody almost everywhere seems to be indulged in this evil practice without knowing it and that is the greater danger given that a known enemy is easier to tackle but an unknown hidden enemy is difficult to fight against. We can only fight against things that we know are there in us as flaws however for things that we do not consider as flaws; we naturally cannot fight against. Therefore, understanding the element of judging is absolutely important in order for a society to nurture itself and move from darkness towards light.
I always give this example to my students in my lectures and that sheds light upon how we act and interact with others. Imagine a person reaching in front of an audience. He climbs down from his luxury car, has great fashionable clothes on, smells nice with perfume and speaks with confidence properly. Now we imagine another person reaching in front of the same audience. He is on foot wearing torn sandals or perhaps bare-feet, laden in old torn clothes, smells bad of sweat and speaks normally without articulation. How will they both be greeted by the audience? If there is any difference in greeting them both then this suggests we are giving respect to perhaps status or say appearance and not the inert value of a human being. Ever imagined why do we do that? We do that because we are constantly judging others on the basis of their appearance and not value. The former man might be of no value but high wealth whereas the latter might be poor but of high value. However, once we start judging and form prejudices we do not give a chance to other people to live their lives as per their value. Hence we go in to a race to compete with the living standards put forward by a society that judges everyone and leave no room for virtue or value in the struggle that follows.
You would be surprised if I tell you that Socrates resembles the latter man in the above example. He was ugly in appearance, had a big belly, large nose, big round eyes, huge head and always used to wear a singular dirty robe. Yet it is his questioning the norms of his society that transformed them and people of later ages in understanding the true virtues of life. It is his questioning that led him to the altar, so to speak, and he could have saved his life by apologising to the court yet in contrast to that he said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” He refused to live a life of following the established dogma because he believed in free thinking and reforming of the human mind through progressive thought.
We need to learn to respect people only on the basis of their self-respect and dignity rather than appearance and status in a society. Every human being must be respected on the basis of the mere fact that he/she has an inherent value called dignity and that should be enough for us to respect others. However, we look at people and try to label them through our judgemental approaches and move on. As a result thinking and understanding becomes scarce and judging and understanding becomes available in abundance.
We try to find the easier route by judging others and getting satisfaction out of it. When we see someone better than us in any respect, we try to judge them and label them with something or anything that can somehow belittle them before us. If we see someone who is better than us and we envy them, there are two ways through which we can try to supersede them. One is to work hard and try to raise our standard in order to progress and the other is to belittle them to an extent that we find our egos bigger than them. Belittling others is the easier way out and is hence followed by the most of the people.
It does not only end here ladies and gentlemen! It spirals outwards and goes out to other differences. God created diversity so that we could embrace this world in its true colours whereas we use it as a reason for difference in trying to make ourselves look bigger and better using the goggles of judgement. After judging others on the basis of immediate appearance we move on to colour, cast, creed, language, region, religion, social affiliation, political opinion, sect and sub-sect and this goes on and on until we find our own self look bigger and better than everybody else around us. This goes on in families, friends, circle of acquaintances in every form and we even teach the same i.e. judgemental approaches to our children in one way or another and hence the circle goes on from one age to another.
Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I believe it is time to reflect upon it. In the primitive times it was the survival of the fittest, which goes on even today in some form. However, it is indeed power that dictates success in today’s world. We consider being rich as being successful, being wealthy as having conquered the quest of life rather than leading a life of value and worth based on the progress of the human mind and thought for which, we do not need the riches. It is time to reconstruct our society and ourselves by inducing a generation that thinks rather than judges and that progresses on higher values and virtue rather than a struggle for wealth accumulation. If we carry on with success as per the parameters set out by today’s world, we might do harm to others in the process and become a wealthy but evil person and loose relaxation and contentment as a result.
When this life comes to an end we will not be asked about our wealth or worldly possessions but about our value and worth as a person. So let us not waste this life in accumulating worldly possessions, which we cannot carry on when we move on, let us then accumulate things which we can carry on when we move on. Let us all try to examine this life so that when we reach the end of our life we have lesser regrets and if we put ourselves a question at the twilight of our life- a question that has been put by man since the beginning of time- and ask ‘Who am I?’ we shouldn’t be ashamed of ourselves but rather be able to close our eyes with a serene and tranquil smile.
The choice then is ours…