In about 3 seconds from now, you are going to judge me.
I, though, do not judge people.
Did you do it already?
Did you read that and go, “Can you believe this self-lubricating shitgibbon?”, and then privately feel happy about your level of self-awareness, like I did?
Perfection has been the holy grail of religion; the antiperspirant of self-improvement. Judgments—the survival mechanism that is spotting imperfections—have been waylaid by an increasingly prudish mafiosi that would like for the world to be made chaste. Perfect.
Judgments are how most of us build the burger of the self: start at the bottom with the bun of unconsciousness, smear the sauces of religious indoctrination, throw in the lettuce of regret, the patty of awareness, the cheese of misery, the tomatoes of Freudian repression, top it off with the bun of Dunning–Kruger and nail it down with the toothpick of narcissism. Serve with a side of fries which is you basking in the smug tranquility of having made progress just by judging someone else.
We now want to make the burger vegan and replace the fries with coleslaw. Bon vomitit.
Okay, that got all weird for no reason.
Judgments are how we decided. But our need to become God means we undo everything that came with an evolutionary purpose. So we are now trying to replace instincts with improvised intentionality. You know, the same way we tried to replace sex with prayer.
A simple instinct is what got us through most of our decisions: Fight or flight. Sure, most of us were also bad at good judgments and extraordinary at bad judgments. The only difference now is we find at least one piece-of-shit trait to hate about one another in under five seconds, and then feel like shit for being so judgmental, and so to compensate for it, we just get married. How are the prayers going?
And how is going, “this fruit could be poisonous” any different from, “this person could be a psycho”?
You could be wrong about the fruit.
Still, over the last few years we have gone on a psychobabbly quest to get better at judgments and understand everything affecting our judgments: biases, prejudices (biases, only racist), and whatever the fuck cognitive dissonance is.
And after all this, does it look to you like we have made our best decisions in the last few years?
I am sure this line of thinking is some cocky-sounding bias too, but I’d rather be biased and wrong than paralyzed and pretentious.
Instead of being wrong the old-fashioned way: looking stupid and remembering how embarrassingly naïve you were—and getting better at judgments by repeating this process, we are now thrust into a label, shamed into hatred and gaslit into questioning everything else good about us—all of which makes us double down on our way of thinking: all of which further makes us believe there is one truth. Shouldn’t this be the definition of cognitive dissonance instead of the current “holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time”?
Isn’t this very ability to hold contradictory beliefs what we need right now?
There’s just one problem with that. It’s imperfect. Alive.
Where’s the sense in taking flight and then going back the help the very person you took flight from? Where’s the logic in starting a fight and walking away when you are winning?
What we need is not a refinement of our judgments, but an identification beyond the self, a capacity for love to identify our selves in one another. A need not for perfection to our thinking but imperfection to our acceptance.
Judgments are the traits about us we can only look through the corners of our eyes. Building a capacity for good judgment is about building the capacity to look at judgments directly, to make space for ignorance, for courage, and for change.
Acceptance isn’t so much about being okay with who people are, but who they aren’t.