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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On chiding people for "being judgmental"

This perfectly encapsulates the dissatisfaction I've always felt at judgmentalism towards people who are (allegedly or otherwise) "judgmental":

"...But again, if you ask people to describe how they've behaved over the years, you will often find that they say they've looked at it very differently, according to the stage of life that they're at. Here i am, for example, sitting here with all the wisdom of my sixty years- what at thought, sixty!- and I can definitely see how I've looked at things differently after forty. I'm less tolerant of bad behaviour, I think, than I used to be. And why do you think that is?"

Pat shrugged. "You get a bit more set in your ways? You become more judgmental?"

"And what is wrong with being judgmental?" Domenica asked indignantly. "It dives me mad to hear people say:' Don't be judgmental'. That's moral philosophy at the level of an Australian soap opera. If people weren't judgmental, how could we possibly have a moral viewpoint in society? We wouldn't have the first clue where we were. All rational discourse about what we should do would grind to a halt. No, whatever you do, don't fall for that weakminded nonsense about not being judgmental. Don't be excessively judgmental, if you like, but always- always- be prepared to make a judgment. Otherwise you'll go through life not really knowing what you mean"

Pat was silent. She had not come to see Domenica to discuss developmental psychology. She had come to talk about Bruce, and specifically, to ask what she should do.

"Very interesting," she said quietly. "But what should I do? Do you think I should apologise to Bruce?"

"Nothing to apologise about," snapped Domenica.

"I feel so sorry for him," said Pat. "I feel..."

"Don't," interrupted Domenica. "Be judgmental. He told you a series of lies. And even if he isn't quite twenty-eight yet, he should know better."

"More judgmentalism?"

"Absolutely," said Domenica. "Silly young man. What a waste of space!"

--- Espresso Tales / Alexander McCall Smith (via       *   my head is bigger than yours)

Addendum: Also see:

On "Judging" People
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