The Lamplighter Movement
My best friend Webster tells me that the word “judgment” means: a) a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion, b) a formal decision given by a court, or c)the final judging of mankind by God. It’s that third one that amuses me. How many do you know that love being judgmental? The overused statement, “Who died and left you God?” is so appropriate here.
Casting judgments, something we’re all guilty of at one time or another, criticizing, and finding fault with another makes us feel superior; it makes us feel intelligent; it empowers us and gives us a marvelous opportunity to make someone else feel “less than”. Look at me. Aren’t I wise? Aren’t I looking out for the common good? But mostly it covers up our own insecurities, our own inadequacies, our own fears. It is often a sign of hidden anger. Surely if the object of our judgment is “less than”, it makes us feel “more than”, something everyone strives for.
And what do we have on the opposite side of this coin……humility or the state of being humble. This is a much misunderstood word. There again we have several definitions (oh I do so love Webster). It can mean not proud or haughty, not arrogant, offered in a spirit of deference or ranking low in a scale, insignificant. None of us wants to feel insignificant or rank low in a scale. Hence being judgmental enters the picture.
When we think of being humble we often think of Uriah Heep, the fictional character created by Charles Dickens in his novel, David Copperfield. This character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness and insincerity, making frequent references to his own “umblesness”. No wonder the word “humility” turns us off. Even if we have never heard of Uriah Heep or never read Dickens we instinctively shy away from wanting to be humble. It sounds so degrading. It makes us feel that we have to hide our light under a bushel basket. This saying is in reference to a bible verse, Matthew 5:14-16 which says:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”
Surely this must mean that if we have qualities of excellence we should let everyone know. And isn’t the best way to do this by making ourselves shine? In telling others what is wrong with them we feel a glow of righteousness.
But are we not our own worst enemy? Contrary to all that we think to be true, it is only through humility that we can achieve one of the things the word has a shortage of, kindness. If we had a choice between making someone feel good or making them feel inadequate, which would be a better focus to put in our universe? If we decide someone needs to be chastised because we think they are too sensitive, what kind of sense does that make? If we pontificate on someone’s shortcomings saying it is for their own good, we feel we are being magnanimous and not just harsh and critical. We feel it is our duty. But most people don’t require a guide to tell them when they need fixing. They have a conscience for that.
I love the word humble. It has such purity, such moral excellence, a soft focus on mankind. The world would be better if, instead of deciding someone needs to be told what is wrong with them (and we are the person to do this), we approached them from a place of understanding, looking for their positive qualities, perhaps looking inward instead. What is our motive for pointing out to someone what we think their shortcomings are? Why do we feel it necessary to color ourselves as “speaking our mind” (oh how noble that sounds) and color others as deficient in some way. The more we are able to chastise the more virtuous we feel. As a result, what we look like to others is patronizing and haughty, egotistical and arrogant. To be truthful we look like a pompous ass.
Being judgmental is sad and unnecessary. If we only accepted others for what they were, realized that instead of criticizing and judging others, if we gave that time to the improvement of ourselves, the world would be a better place.
Or am I being judgmental?