Monday, February 28, 2011


What a power-packed word.  It usually has an emotional impact of sorts when we hear it because we've each experienced being on the 'raw' end of someone else's judgment. That's not fun.  Another meaning the word 'judgment' holds for me is that I have to focus carefully to make sure I spell it right.  I was the winner in a few spelling bees as a child, but I lost the 6th grade championship spelling bee because I spelled the word 'judgement', instead of 'judgment'.  I'll never forget how humiliated I was, because that was the year I had a huge schoolgirl's crush on a boy with black hair in a crew cut, and marvelous green eyes.  I watched him every day playing touch football at recess, trying hard to look nonchalant.  And when I missed the spelling on that last word, I remember wishing I could just disappear into a dark hole somewhere, rather than taking the pitiful honor of receiving 2nd place.

I've come to know the human capability to judge as a gift of the Divine.  The challenge is to use it wisely.  There is a difference between making a judgment call to better our own actions, and judging something as either 'good' or 'bad' in total.  I learned that when I worked as a Drug Addiction Counselor, as I realized that alcohol, in and of itself, isn't 'bad' (nor 'good'), but the use of alcohol is what creates either a 'bad' or 'good' result, depending the need, or the result wanted.  The word 'balance' would be a more accurate descriptor, that 'right' or 'wrong', even 'better than' or 'worse than'.  It's a Taoist principle, really.  Does the use of the thing create a good end?  Or not?  What are the 'fruits' of the use?  One of the perspectives that helps me make wise judgments is to ask myself if the action or tool I choose will be an 'energy add' to life, or an 'energy drain'.  Bottom line, does it go toward life, or death.  Good question.

And then there is the question of when to apply judgment, not just what judgment to make.  What I've found to be true in my own life is that I have not only the opportunity but the responsibility to make judgment in things having to do with my own actions in my own life.  Judgment is mine also to make in situations where something or someone is within my personal stewardship.  For example, when my children were minors, I made the final judgment for them, in their behalf, while teaching them as best I could to make wise judgments for themselves.  They were in my stewardship.  So is my business.  It's the old "The Buck Stops Here' principle.  When the judgment I make is a good one, I get the credit.  When it's not, I get the blame.  It's fair.

But what if you don't know you're judging?  That's a tricky one.  In the past, I've found myself in that situation too many times, so more consciousness in judgment has been my goal.  Because of this focus, and because I've achieved some measure of success at it, I see more clearly now when someone else is making a judgment, and what kind of judgment they are making - often below the level of their awareness.  It's interesting to me, because I can see how our ego defends it's claim on the area of 'I'm right, you're wrong', usually without our even realizing it.  And when there is a conclusion that is reached about something (based on a judgment made), there is no more learning that can be had in that area.  The only thing we can say at that moment (to ourselves or another) is, "I know", thinking we already know what's going on.  There is no openness toward further possibility.
For example:  A friend of mine recently used an analogy with me of gardening and nutrition.  Her son likes pancakes, not fresh vegetables, and if it were possible he would much prefer to have a family 'pancake garden', rather than a vegetable garden.  My friend wisely tries to sneak whatever vegetables into her son's food that she can, knowing that eating more vegetable in his diet gives him more nutrition, than a diet of solely pancakes would, no matter how much more he likes them.  This son and his diet is in her stewardship, so she makes judgments about the food she offers him, and continues to grow the family vegetable garden.  When her son grows up and leaves his mother's stewardship, he will have to make his own judgments on what he will eat for his own best nutrition.  He may even find a way to continue eating his preferred meal of pancakes, while incorporating into them other, more 'veggie' types of items.  It has been done.  (Cooked beets, squash, pumpkin, carrots, and grated fresh apples are all great in pancakes!)  So, if his mother kept a hard rule about pancakes being a lesser source of nutrition than vegetables, she may end up mistaken.  But, like most mother's, once we climb on a soapbox about something, making judgment about how things should and shouldn't be, we get attached to it.  Then it's easy to judge the person who is doing something differently than we have experienced as valuable, as doing it 'wrong' - hence, the person is wrong.  Relationships become strained when this happens, and hard feelings ensue.

So, my intention is to judge wisely, making sure that my judgment falls within what is actually in my stewardship.  And the rest of the time, speak only for myself, and what I have found value in for myself, honoring another's experience with respect only, free from judgment whatsoever of what is 'better than', or 'less than', what I am doing myself.  When I was a child, I was taught certain belief systems, and sources of 'Good', to which my parents felt the whole world should ascribe to, and follow.  I've found that this type of thinking only creates 'war zones'.  I choose not to participate.  If it's about nutrition, there are many ways to get it.  If it's about becoming 'one with the Divine', there are many ways to get that result too.  And everything else in between. 


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