The Right to Judge

I am a high school student. It’s not exactly something I’m proud of. Contemporary culture stereotypes high school students as inexperienced, indecent, and overall unintelligent human beings. Adolescence is the awkward middle ground between innocent childhood and mature adulthood, the experience that many look forward to but most would like to forget. It’s not surprising, considering the quantity of kids who are bullied and broken apart by their peers’ cruel and cutting comments – in fact, the one facet about typical teenagers I find underplayed is just how judgmental we are.

After googling "the right to judge", I realized research on the topic would be difficult as most people think of judgement in a religious or political sense. Not my intent right now.

I must admit something now. I judged someone today. I called this person a mean name, and talked about him to a close friend of mine. But the truly terrible thing is that I felt justified in doing it – this person cheated on a quiz, and my teachers had found out about him – so I assumed that I had the right to castigate him for his actions. Did I really, though? Did two wrongs – his cheating, and my gossiping – make a right?

There’s a reason high school students are so critical. Society forces us to conform to the standards of celebrities, to the untouchable yet so dearly-beloved stars in media. However, no one is able to reach these fabricated realities of perfection, so naturally, we become insecure and target those that are just a little below us on the chain of social standing. Or we just pick on the people that are, you know, different, because who gave them the right to live their lives freely? Who told them that they could not care about what others think about them?

Remember that post about why high school relationships fail I wrote last year? I was writing a shorter version of my argument in a post online for an English class I’m currently taking. One of my friends noticed and proceeded to give me her opinion.

“I totally agree with you,” she said,” but others will think you’re like, totally against relationships because you’ve never been in one and you’re just jealous.”

“I have been in a relationship, though,” I said.

“I know that,” she replied,” but others don’t.”

“I don’t care what other people think of me,” I said, cutting off the conversation in order to finish the assignment on time, and possibly because the situation was making me more uncomfortable than I should have been.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers is one of the best books I've read that deals with gossipping, rumor-spreading, and essentially, high school drama.

I’m sure my friend had good intentions for informing me of this, yet I was honestly hurt by her comment. Not by my friend, but by the truth that she revealed – that my peers, the people I spend seven hours every day with, would judge me for something as small as one of my beliefs without the whole context of who I really am. I’ve been on the receiving end of some nasty rumors before, but this made me realize how wrong it is to judge someone at all.

You may accuse me of being too sensitive, and yes, I am a very sensitive guy. But gossiping and bullying is an issue beyond me and my high school; it is a problem that plagues teenagers all over the country. Search “bullying suicides” on Google and you will receive more than one million hits. I can supply links to such upsetting stories that it depresses me how horribly common bullying is, how awfully unsurprising suicides like this one and this one and this one are.

Going back to the conversation I had with my friend today, I admit to lying a little bit. Frankly, there are peoples’ opinions that I couldn’t care less about, yet it’s hurtful to hear someone say something bad about me when I always try my hardest to be a kind and compassionate person. I have it easy though – can you imagine how it would feel to suffer from taunting and teasing every day over something insignificant like your sexuality or your religion? Something that doesn’t even affect other people, like your weight or how you look?

Judging and bullying go hand in hand. When one feels insecure they often resort to picking out and pointing out the flaws of other people. Sometimes these things aren’t even flaws, but are surface level qualities like how we look or what we wear. It only takes one insult to instill a sense of inferiority in someone, and only a couple more before they begin to wonder if who they are is even good enough anymore.

So please, please, please think before you pass judgement on someone. Think about how you would feel if someone were to say something like that about you, or how hurtful it would be if what you were saying would spread. Of course criminals deserve to be judged, but they also deserve to be punished. These days, too many innocent teens are condemned to punishments that they simply don’t deserve.

"Easy A" was a great movie about how rumors can damage one's reputation. I especially recommend it if you enjoyed The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

I apologize for the gargantuan post everyone! I honestly didn’t plan this, though the idea had been formulating in my head after that conversation I had with my friend today. It’s also anti-bullying week at my school, what a coincidence. I just noticed that you usually don’t see adults committing suicide because of bullying, probably because they’ve matured to the point of being beyond immature tactics such as taunting and teasing.

Who do you think has the right to judge others? Do you? What’s your stance on bullying and the effect of society on today’s teens? This issue has a huge place in my heart, so I’m really curious for my readers’ opinions.

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10 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

10 responses to “The Right to Judge

  1. Even adults judge others, as though doing so erases or justifies faults of our own. It’s one of the hardest things to quit, to see the big picture and not just the tiny slice of a person’s life that is in front of you at the moment.

    • Very well-stated. I suppose it is human nature and one cannot simply outgrow who they are, but I think with time and patience one can lessen the amount of judging they do and replace it with acceptance.

  2. A Pakistani Boy

    Personally having experienced being judged, i admit it is wrong of us to do that to others (i’m talking of the whole experience a person has to go through). But it is also a part of Human nature, so it’s inevitable not to judge. What we can do is to ignore that part of us and go on forth with what is right; not to judge, and not to let that judgmental part get in the way :)

    • I empathize with you. I suppose those who judge and act wrongly on those judgements may not realize the long term repercussions You pretty much hit the nail on the head by saying that “it’s inevitable not to judge” but “what we can do is ignore that part of us and go on forth with what is right” – I just said something similar to another person who commented. Love the insight!

  3. Wow, this made me feel like an ass, honestly, because despite trying to police my thoughts and preaching about how we’re all amazing, I slip up, too. On one hand, I like to encourage people to pride themselves on their tolerance abilities but on the other, we’re only human.

    Unfortunately, despite how much I try to deny it, it’s only in our nature. Humans do stupid shit sometimes. I tend to claim to dislike hypocrites, but we’re all hypocritical sometimes. Or maybe it’s just me trying to rationalize my thoughts away.

    Another thing is, we’re so caught up, as a society (like your mentioned in your post) with appearances and celebrities and status and other petty things. But why? What purpose will this serve us in the future? Sure, we’ll maybe look hot and have a mansion and a hot partner, but will we really be happy if we aspire to the life that rivals that of a celebrity?

    I think we need to stop worrying about other people and do a little soul searching and self-exploration. We need to take time out of being around people and just look inward, learn about ourselves, and work on improving ourselves. If you know your strengths and weaknesses, don’t you think it will be easier to work on these things? We need to learn about ourselves and about our world and see the beauty in what’s around us.

    -contemplative sigh-

    I think I may seem slightly high right now. And I just ranted my flaws on here. THAT WAS JUST FOR YOU, BABY. MY INNERMOST FEELINGS. Just kidding.

    But seriously, this issue of bullying has really started to get to me especially since all these suicides started happening. Heck, ever since I started watching and reading the news, I’ve wondered how on earth people could have the capacity to hate so strongly.

    I will join you as an advocate against bullying. :]

    • What a wonderful comment! I agree with everything you’ve stated, though like you were getting at I don’t think we can justify our actions just by stating that it’s in our nature. People can’t solely blame the genes they’ve inherited from their parents for the poor decisions they make, and that applies to being judgmental too.

      Overall, though it’s in our nature, we (as in all humans) should learn to use judgment to protect others as opposed to hurt them. I’m glad you’re joining me as an advocate against bullying. (:

      Thanks for reading and for the insightful comment Erika! Keep those K-Pop tweets coming, they’re very entertaining. (;

  4. hmm as a rule of thumb, I don’t judge unless they specifically ask for my opinion or the situation arises when telling my opinion is acceptable. Of course, there are exceptions abound, especially when the person did something illegal.

    Bullying, who wouldn’t be against it, but I’m sad to say that it is in human nature but it is also in human nature to stand up for yourself, and if you have a good example of those who do that, like your family, you will do the same for yourself. Of course, in some situations, you can’t really do anything, and that is the time to ask for help.. bullying is always deplorable, but never should we just think about eradicating it, but also teaching the methods to stop it should it occur, because it will always, always be there. Sort of a fatal view.

    Michelle

    • That’s true, it would be impossible to eradicate bullying completely. I do think it can be lessened though.

      Thanks for reading and commenting as always Michelle. (:

  5. Lets suppose that I am among those who don’t normally judge people. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that nobody would judge me back. I am a normal person doing normal things in my life, but based on my actions, decisions and beliefs etc it is evident that some people around me will definitely give me a judging look or have such thought in their minds. And assuming that I still continue my habit or behavior of not judging someone, the number of people who judge me will keep increasing no matter what.
    Yes it is mean, proud, wrong and bad to judge someone, but it does take a “big heart” to “take” that judging and not throw it back at the person’s face. It can only be done by convincing somebody not to judge others, but if you see people judging and tell them to change themselves, you are yourself judging them on being judgmental! That is a paradox…. :-)
    (Nice post by the way, agree with most of it)
    Keep writing.

    Jawad

    • I agree that there will always be judgmental people out there, no matter what you do. The important thing is that you stay true to yourself and act compassionate to everyone even if not everyone will do the same to you – it’s better to be that one good person as opposed to one of the many bad people.

      I see what you mean about the paradox, though after discussing it with my friends I’ve realized that being judgmental is necessary in some cases. Like I mentioned in my post you have to judge someone who’s committed a crime, and in some circumstances it’s necessary to judge people who are judging others unfairly. What I’m saying is that there’s a difference between judging someone like “Oh my gosh, she’s so fat, I bet she eats hundreds of big Macs a day” vs. “that boy should really stop bullying that girl, it’s not nice.” Of course some judgment is necessary but judgment that is cruel and uncalled for is not.

      Thank you for reading and for commenting, that was some good food for though!

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