Who Am I To Judge?

I think about this question frequently and I doubt this will be my only post about it. Who are we to judge the choices other people make in their lives? When we’re young, our primary influence in life is our parents. For those of us that did not spend all day with our parents, our teachers and caregivers had a great influence as well. What these people taught us is usually what we end up carrying out in adulthood. So when we make ill advised choices do we take responsibility for them or do we pass the blame and which should we be doing?

The truth is, we don’t have the right answer to these questions. Of course, as adults we should take responsibility for our actions and if we aren’t happy with the choices we make, we need to change them. However, what other people think of our choices should not influence what we choose. What gives us the right to look  at someone else and say, “What you did was wrong and what I did was right” without adding “FOR ME” to the end? Every minute of every day we make choices and the only person of the 7 billion on this Earth that has the right to assess that choice as good or bad is the one who made it.

I think I make a number of bad choices everyday. What I’ve come to realize is a lot of the choices I perceive as “bad” aren’t for my own reasons. This is especially true when I make the same “bad” choice over again,. Clearly, I do it because it makes me happy and I’m comfortable with this particular decision. It’s what other people say in general conversation or about the choice at hand that makes me believe it was wrong. It doesn’t even have to be a gaggle of geese against it; no, a single goose will suffice. It just takes one person and one comment to make me question my entire 22 1/2 years of life.

Sometimes questioning your life is a good thing. For instance, I started questioning my diet. Nutritional value is a fact. There is bad and good in facts. If someone (really someones) hadn’t made me think about the value my body is getting from my diet, I never would have decided I need to do better. This is true for choices that can’t be supported with facts as well, it’s just more difficult to explain. The point is: sometimes we need a push to get going. For an object at rest stays at rest unless acted on by an outside force. We can’t always be our own driving forces and more often than not, the force that stops us is external.

I was going to approach this topic in my blog a couple days ago (and now weeks ago from the time I’m actually posting it in relation to writing it) but all it took was one person to tell me to bury my head in a book instead for me to wait. I don’t believe in coincidences and I know there’s a reason I didn’t just go ahead and do it after I asked and even a reason I asked to begin with. Over the days between my initial urge and and me writing this I made several choices I questioned later without the help of someone else. This gave me the opportunity to look even deeper at this topic before bringing it to the public. I wish these extra days provided more answers but reality suggests no matter how many days I wait answers won’t come. That doesn’t stop me from trying.

Who are we to judge the decisions of others as good or bad? What makes us think we have this right? In order to judge another in this way we’re inherently assuming that we’re better than them. There is a double standard though: Nobody stops to question our rights when we say somebody did good; it’s only bad things we question. Why is it so much more difficult for humans to deal with “wrong” than “right”? We assume we understand good and evil bu our actions suggest we do not understand evil. It began with Adam and Eve, whether you see this story as real or fictional. If we understood evil the apple would never have been eaten. If we understood how to reject evil and accept good there would be no need for judgment of others or ourselves. The simple fact is we don’t.

Temptation looks us in the eye every time we’re faced with a choice. My typical one: I’m awake and I could go to the gym but the sun hasn’t started its day so why should I? Yet, my day doesn’t end when the sun goes down. What kind of sense is that? Nonsense. Many other choices also appear this way. Although we probably overlook this more frequently than we realize. Most choices are more than two-dimensional but I doubt most of us even slow down enough to consider other dimensions. In truth, there aren’t enough hours in life to spend that kind of time on a choice. We have to do the best we can with the time we have and this can result in decisions that don’t satisfy us but we’re stuck with them. Again, it doesn’t matter if they make other people feel like we did the right (or wrong) thing because they aren’t stuck with it. It’s the decision-makers life not the observer’s.

A lot of choices impact others. The impacts are lasting and people have to live with that. But, everything happens for a reason and if this particular thing happened, then whoever was impacted has to decide how to use it. They say it takes more muscles to frown than smile, I also think it takes more energy to dislike a person than accept them. Therefore, let their choices be their choices and accept the person as a whole. If you can’t do that, then forget about the person. Don’t let their decisions become toxins in your life. You have your own toxins, I promise.

The point I wanted to get across here is that the self is the only one who should deal with our choices. It was the self that made the choice and therefore the self should decide whether or not another member of the population is in the red or green. There are professions that address this but those people are trained professionals. You sort of get the right to do thinks when you make it your life’s work. So make being judgement free your life’s work and help yourself be happy with your choices.


Published by She Got The PhD

A web-based soapbox of an Assistant Professor of color in Chemical Engineering; sharing my feelings on books, academia, and current events. I hope you enjoy reading :)

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