A lot has been on my mind lately and several things that I encounter in my social activities leave me frustrated and sad. One of which I will talk about here is the readiness that people have when it comes to judging others. In school, we learn that biased judgments are not of value, for they are tempered and ridden with personal, subjective views and beliefs. In life, we slowly realize that the lives that we lead and the lives of other that we encounter are all vastly different from one another. In truth, we start to recognize that maybe it is impossible to fully comprehend completely what it means to “walk in someone else’s shoes”. If we know all these thing, then we start to see that our conception of reality and the interactions we have with others are all based on a set of very biased and personal beliefs. These beliefs are the frameworks within our minds that set the formulae for our day-to-day experiences, that is, these beliefs determine whether we come out of an experience with a positive or negative attitude, or somewhere in between; if for a second we pretend that human experience can be ranked superficially on a scale of positives and negatives. We use these beliefs and preconceptions to subjectively judge, say, if a movie we had just seen was bad, if a particular dish was bad, if a person’s sense of fashion is bad, etc. Knowing this, we began to see that even our most fundamental qualias are subjected to our beliefs, and thus, to bias, and we know that any biased judgments are flawed and in turn, useless.
How then is it possible that so many of us jump so readily to judge someone? Because it is easy. So easy that we don’t even realize it. Everyone has for themselves some sort of loosely defined, or in the case of some particularly judgmental people, strictly defined patterns of thought that enables them to apply their beliefs and preconceptions during their judgment-making process. We all know that everyone enjoys different types of foods and drinks, because we know that everyone has different preferences. These preferences we all have arise from our preconceptions about what a good taste is. So then, we say, our preferences for different kinds of foods must be biased and biased judgments are useless. Not quite. It is only useless when we try to apply our own unique perspectives to others’. It is not useless to say, I quite enjoy eating spinach; however we all know that it is quite useless to say, if you don’t enjoy eating spinach then you must be an idiot. This is all very intuitive.
So then, if it is intuitive, then we must also can see why it is useless to try and argue why a movie is bad, why a dish is bad, why a person’s sense of fashion is bad, etc, to someone that doesn’t share your views. However, nothing is more useless than to judge a person. We talked about preferences and beliefs, but we did not talk about where they come from. They come from experience, they come from living and they come from “walking in our shoes”. The shoes we walk in have only ever been worn by us. It is impossible to truly walk in someone else’s shoes, so then, how can we rightly judge someone as stupid, as pretty, as ugly, as smart, as strong, or brave, or cowardly, lazy, shallow, materialistic, etc? These judgments are biased — and not only are they just biased, they are only based on our limited understanding of the person we are judging. These judgments we make about people are not only just wrong because they are biased, but also because they are based on incomplete information. Only we know how it is like to walk in our shoes, so only we should judge ourselves, and no one else. We can only try and understand where the other person is coming from, and that is all. We cannot judge because our judgments are biased and we cannot judge because we do not know.