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Being Judgmental

Too many people have bought into the belief that it is wrong or undesirable to be judgmental. It has never made any sense to me to feel this way. As humans we have a responsibility to use our intelligence to think critically about everything and everyone. How else can we help make the world better?

Yes, to be judgmental is to be either negative or positive about something that is nontrivial. How else can we seek justice, make necessary changes and improve our nation and lives, if not by being judgmental.

Reaching a judgment, however, is not the same as acting on that judgment, but it is the necessary first step. Without judgmental mindsets there is no chance whatsoever of fixing the many evils that plague us.

Being a mature adult means shouldering the responsibility of being judgmental. To deny this responsibility is what should be condemned, not being judgmental.

Of course being judgmental is not the same as being nasty or bellicose. One can and should be judgmental while also being cordial and civil.

We need to use the best communication skills in delivering our judgments to others, particularly because if we believe in our judgments we should want to convince others that we have a well supported and reasoned position. This is key to obtaining larger scale changes and improvements. In other words, it makes no sense to be judgmental and then be so shy that we hold our positions in secret. No, we must be both judgmental and openly proud to tell others about our judgments.

This also means being honest and open enough to new information and thinking that may change our conclusions and positions. In other words, being judgmental without being flexible is what should be avoided. And that is the problem with so many people that we classify as extremists: they are terribly rigid in their judgments.

To be judgmental while also being respected by others requires openness to listening to the positions of others, and taking them seriously. Being sensibly judgmental is better than just being casually opinionated.

Judgment day should be everyday. Naturally to be judgmental one must be open to be judged by others.

"We praise or blame as one or the other affords more opportunity for exhibiting our power of judgment." Friedrich Nietzsche got it right. We must inform and develop our power of judgment.

Save your judgments for things that really matter. Do not fear to be judgmental about yourself. When someone proudly claims to be nonjudgmental, think seriously about them.

4,953 - 4 - 0 - US
Joel S. Hirschhorn has succeeded as: a full professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison; a senior staffer, U.S. Congress (Office of Technology Assessment); head of an environmental consulting company; Director of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, National Governors Association; now an author and consultant. Recent books are: Sprawl Kills - How Blandburbs Steal Your Time, Health and Money, and Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. He has published hundreds of articles in newspapers, magazines, journals and on many web magazine sites. He has given hundreds of talks at a wide range of conferences worldwide. He focuses on American culture, politics and government, and health issues.