July 11, 2008


The word “judgement”—with or without the “e”—has gained a reputation as an ugly term, unfairly I think. The problem is it carries a great deal of baggage. Simply put, a judgement is a reasoned decision or opinion; it is a neutral term that does not delineate whether the opinion is supportive or the decision unfavorable.

Therein lies the problem. Like everyone else, I have opinions. To arrive at an opinion, I must use what I hope is sound judgement. I’m certainly willing to listen to more information that might lead to a new conclusion, but that’s using judgement again. Judgement is required in order to decide between two conflicting ideas.

Tempers rise when the term “judgement” is taken to mean “condemnation” instead of “discernment.” The term applies comfortably to either, but obviously not universally; and lately there is an automatic assumption to the negative. I believe judgement is most often a good thing. Of ten definitions in Encarta, only one is negative; but some who are eager to find offense will pounce every time on that word and cry “Unfair!” We are becoming a nation of professional victims, cringing at the supposed sting of opinion. We must use our discernment and judge for ourselves whether offense is merited. Disagreement is not a cause for alarm; it is a call for reasoned and respectful discussion.


Roxrocks said...

"A nation of professional victims"

No truer words have ever been spoken.

Greg said...

Indeed, 'tis true. If only we could find a way to be interested in and welcoming of the opinions and perspectives of other people, without all that self-defensive silliness.

somewhere joe said...

Yes, judgment can break either way, or sometimes along an unexpected path. I think the term implies some finality, however. Judgment is a decision which discernment has prepared.

I think the term "judgmental" derives its negativity from the idea that a faulty or premature judgment has been made. A judgment lacking mercy (and often discernment) made with assumed or appropriated authority, based on solipsistic assumptions, often self-serving.

But judgments we must make, if only to get on with the business of living in an imperfect world. In the end, and if I understand the gospel, judgment is vindicative. Jesus "did not come to judge the world but to save the world." As my friend Rick once said, God judges kingdoms (systems), but saves people.

Doralong said...

As all above have noted..

There are times when judgment is indeed required, and more than appropriate. One can play with semantics as one chooses, but in the end are we not all truly judged? Be it in our own eyes or those of others? Personally I think the concept in it's purer sense keeps us honest- because without some semblance thereof, what, if any, moral grounding would we as a species truly have?

I grant you it is a matter of perspective, and there are some forms of "justice" I find genuinely repugnant, but in the end it comes down to a simple paradigm of action and consequence.

And apropos of nothing- glad I finally popped over from Al's blog, I was genuinely pleased and enjoyed your thoughts.