Judgement Day

What is it that we are? Are we our memories; the sum total of all events in our lives? Do we possess a fixed and unchanging self, or one that constantly mutates? Are we a little of both, possessing peculiarities that we are born with, that find themselves reshaped by life? Are we merely ourselves, or do we absorb something of those that we love, and even hate, over time?

What is certain is that we are complex, multi-layered beings. Much of who we are lies hidden or only vaguely sensed at the periphery of our perception; those parts of us that we are less aware of, we can so often project onto others, using these psychological hooks as a scapegoat for our own lack of self-awareness. I would guess that we have all been guilty of such behaviour at points in our lives – when we meet people who push our buttons, we can be sure that they have something to teach us about ourselves. We have all been in situations when we hear someone berating the inadequacies or behaviour of another, only to recognise those traits in that very person who is judging. When we point the finger, without taking into account the complexity and difficulty that being human can entail, we immerse ourselves in an incomplete, one-sided picture, quite often in an effort to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions. It can be an act of desperation when we feel we no longer have control over a situation, seeking to subdue the fear of our own failings by naming them, over and over, in others. It can be difficult to become aware of our emotional blind spots, but life so often places us in situations that reveal a little of them to us: people and events can act as mirrors of those uncharted and disassociated places within. We learn from each other what it means to be us.

This is what makes harsh judgement of others so sad; when we berate others; when we inflict harsh criticism that lacks awareness of the bigger picture, we are choosing to look outwards and blame, rather than to look inwards and understand. Judgement, particularly when it stems from anger or hurt, can seek to punish the human frailty in another; it can also blind us to the good in that person too; in judging we aim to diminish that person’s humanity in an attempt to feel superior and less vulnerable ourselves. In the end, the only thing that makes any sense is to acknowledge that life is much too complex to see in black or white terms – life is paradoxically grey; the certainties of who is right or wrong dissolve when we widen our gaze and take in to account all sides of a dilemma; all sides of a person or persons.

There are without doubt situations, actions and people who will draw anger from us but we can only hope that with a little compassion for that greyness in life and an acknowledgement of the ambiguous nature of human beings, we can move a little closer to judging less and knowing ourselves, and each other, a little more.

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