James Pearson: Thinker. Miner for Truth. Recovering internet addict. Encourager. Aspiring author. Runner. Will engage in deep conversation for food, or free.
I don’t mean to be judgmental but, well, I am. And so are you. We all are. And the more people we come into contact with the more we feel the need for quick, easy ways to judge them, to categorize them and assess their value.
So we come up with some simple markers that we can look for to make a quick judgement: what kind of car does he drive, how nicely is her home decorated, how expensive/designer/vintage/thrifted are their clothes, what kind of bag does she carry? We use these because they are quick and easy. We can deploy them immediately on first meeting someone and come back with a judgement within minutes or even seconds. And perhaps most importantly we use them because, somewhere along the line, we all agreed on them.
The problem here is not that judging people is wrong, we have to make judgement calls about people all the time, and it’s not that cars and bags are bad. It’s that cars and bags have no relation to the value of a human being. We have simplified our tools of judging people to the point where they are useless for judging people.
Worse, since we all know that we are going to be judged by these metrics, we design our lives to score highly in them. We chase after and collect simplistic markers of social merit instead of spending our time building things of true value.
And most insidiously, over time, as we judge and get judged by these standards, we start to really believe, at some semi-conscious level, that a person’s value can be worn and driven and decorated.
But we all know, when we give it a moment’s thought, that we are not our cars, we are not our homes. We are people with certain gifts and passions and quirks and not others. No amount of cataloguing your closet will teach me even the first percentage point of who you are.
So let’s stop judging each other and ourselves by these valueless standards. I’m not saying get rid of your car or throw out your nice clothes, just don’t accept people’s judgement on those grounds. Instead, offer them a glimpse of your true value, and ask them for the same in return. This won’t always work, and will rarely be very easy, but the relationships you found on your true sense of worth will be the best you’ll ever have.