“Don’t judge” is the new pop culture catchphrase, and it makes zero sense.
Somewhere along the way, Americans decided–definitively (ironic, isn’t it?)– that decisiveness is bad. Therefore, if your friend has a raging eating disorder, say nothing as she starves herself. Better to do that than ask if she needs help, just in case she thinks you’re judging her. (If she actually has a disorder, she will think you’re judging her, by the way. And while you’re pandering for her approval, the disorder will kill her just as dead.) If another friend shoots heroin, don’t judge… let him live his short life. Are you a vegan who didn’t like Lady Gaga’s meat dress? Say nothing. Don’t judge.
Funny thing is, in the name of letting everyone have their opinions and encouraging people to be themselves in a nonjudgmental environment, we’re censoring an awful lot.
I’m normally polite in this blog, but let me be blunt, readers, family, close friends:
I hope you judge. I hope you judge me. I hope your judgment is clear, sharp, compassionate, accurate, helpful, and above all, wise.
I hope you spend a lifetime working on and using your good judgment, because I need it whenever mine goes bad like a New Coke. I need people who will always believe that two plus two equals four, even if television and all of their friends–and I– insist it equals a chocolate cake. I need those people on my exhilarating good days, and in the darkest hours of my life.
I hope you share with me things you have considered, pondered over, meditated on, and learned from going through hell on earth without receiving a dismissive response like “Don’t judge!”
If I can’t allow people to disagree with me without labeling that disagreement as judgment and hate, I clearly have no idea of what love really is.
Shaming people in ways that frame me as morally superior is little more than being controlling, which is a pathetic, ineffective, and selfish substitute for love, which is so, so, so much more durable.
And if you enjoy trying to strip away someone else’s right to their beliefs by quoting “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” here’s a lesson in the theology you’re trying to evoke: That Biblical passage means that you should expect to receive the exact same kind of treatment you dish out to other people. That includes silencing any and all dissension to your own beliefs in the name of open-mindedness.
You don’t have to believe in absolute truth– that’s not what this post is about–but if you do, know that it works everywhere, and in all situations. Forcing out all contention isn’t necessary for it’s veracity… that’s just insecurity.
So pop culture, I’m going to use a word you don’t like: “No.” I reject your silly catchphrase because I prefer to think for myself… and little passive-aggressive “shame bombs” won’t stop me.
Until next time, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Love on. And call a spade a dadgum spade.