Snap Judgments

bedbug

SueG was the epitome of judgmental. She made snap judgments about people, places, prices, outfits, couples, explanations, houses, friends, pets and so on. The thing is, we live in an age in which being “judgmental” is the equivalent of being rude, unkind or worse. I’m with SueG on this one.

We all make judgments about the world, every hour, every minute. We have to, in order to survive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with judging someone or something, as long as one keeps it to oneself. It is when judgmental viewpoints are shared, to the detriment of their subject, that the harm occurs. I don’t seek to be non-judgmental. To me, being non-judgmental is the equivalent of turning off one’s brain.  I think many times what someone means rather than “don’t judge” is “reserve your opinion until you have more facts.” That is much more palatable to me, though I certainly didn’t see my mother reserving her opinion much.

She did not dither but jumped to the direst conclusion available in the moment. An exterminator truck in someone’s driveway meant the house had bedbugs. If a couple took separate vacations, even once, divorce was imminent, due to an affair on the part of one or, more likely, both. Police called to a house in the middle of the night meant domestic abuse. An unmarried man volunteering to be a scout leader meant he lusted after the young boys. (She was not especially enlightened in certain attitudes.) Someone being extra friendly meant they would soon be asking for money in one context or another.

The problem, for me, was that her assertions were so seldom wrong, or so it seemed. I hated to hear a drastic announcement driven by intuition and entirely unsupported by facts. “They’re moving? They must be bankrupt.” “He has a new job? Must have gotten fired.” It was maddening – so unjust of her to make such quick judgments about people she often didn’t know. But her intuition was superb. She was the queen of sniffing out bad intentions and shameful exigencies. And she didn’t talk out of school much. She was smart about who she said what to. I hear her voice in my head sometimes, summing up a situation with an assessment I often fervently wish will be proven wrong.

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