Category Archives: Thoughts

Judgement vs Prejudice

We all heard of Jane Austen’s timeless love classic, Pride and Prejudice” (see wiki-link).  Many have been delighted by the tale of the protagonists Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, the great heroine and hero of the day. How they overcame their pride and prejudices as well as discovered the notion that “Nice” is not the same as “Good”, through their memorable adventures, mistakes and redemption!

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“Elizabeth and Darcy” An illustration by Hugh Thomson 1894

Definition of Prejudice and Judgement

Likewise, we all heard the mantra “Judgement is bad.  Do not Judge”

Is this the same as not being prejudiced?  Let us examine the lexicon as defined by Oxford Dictionaries, and stated below,

Prejudice is preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

Judgemental is having or displaying an overly critical point of view.

Judgement is the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions

Other commonly used dictionaries have similar definitions.

The Misconception of Judgement 

Well, in most cases, it is unnecessary to belabour over small conversational inaccuracy, especially if harmless.  Some inaccuracy and little differences in viewpoints are part and parcel of conversation, and we need not and should not try to clarify everything.

And much as the preference is not to undertake this task, there is an unfortunate need to.  The word “Judgement” has been so abused that the idea of “Non Judgement/Non discernment” has taken on a life of its own, and there is actually far reaching consequences to Culture.

Let me explain here.

Clarification of the Judgement Misnomer

There is a marked distinction between “Judgement”, “Prejudice” and being “Judgmental”.

Judgement is borne of deep consideration and sensibility, a key skill required, used sparingly and only when necessary, to protect ourselves and not to hurt. On the other hand, Prejudice is not based on reason or experience, and being Judgemental is doing too much to the point of error (aka exercising all the time to the point of heavy breakdown/damage).

Harmfulness of Prejudice and Being Judgemental. 

Apartheid, reduction of capacity and opportunity are terrible manifestations of Prejudice.  There is also no need to be judgemental e.g. to nitpick over harmless preferences and diversity of others, over-measuring them in non relevant areas, making others feel inadequate unnecessarily or depriving them of opportunity.

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Benefits of Good Judgement

In actuality, there are important times when “judgement/measurement” is appropriate:

i) we judge/assess people and situations to protect ourselves e.g. we won’t want to let a drunk person drive us home, and will probably dive for cover when a crazy looking guy whips out a semi-automatic etc;  

ii) we are wary of anyone who make us offers that are too good to be true, and do extra checks to ascertain the background and validity; 

iii) we recognize and differentiate a bully, thief and a debtor who never repays debt, extremist etc from others, to prevent ourselves from being continually harmed by the person.  At the same time, we may recognize/judge that people can change for the better, so we do re-assess at an appropriate time and in safety;

iv) we know when we do not have enough evidence, and stop ourselves from being prejudiced.

etc.

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“Lady Catherine and Elizabeth” Illustrated by C. E. Brock, 1895

The Far Reaching Consequences

It is un-required Prejudice and being overly Judgmental that we need to deal with, not good Judgement.  Good Judgement is required to correctly recognize, deal with anti-social and extremist behaviour (see footnote), We do not prejudice harmless diversity.

That said, too many people are using the word “Judgement/Careful assessment” as a misnomer for Prejudice or being Judgmental.  In the confusion of false Empathy and “Non Judgement/Non Assessment”, highly anti-social behaviour such as admitted extreme selfishness and other harmful behaviour (see footnote) etc becomes more tolerable, even acceptable, vindicated and flaunted culturally.  

Some of the confused even lose the ability to know and distance themselves from the recalcitrant, becoming repeated victims, and worse, destroying their own positive world views, and become more easily radicalized.  

Hence, we need good judgement, to distinguish between perpetual blatant offenders and occasional mistakes, and act accordingly.

Conclusion

Let us improve our capacity for humility, apply good judgement where necessary, reduce unfounded prejudice; to protect ourselves, but not to hurt.  At the same time, let us remind ourselves and others not to wrongly promote the bias of the word “Judgement”.  

Through clearing this misnomer and using the correct lexicon “Prejudice” or “Judgemental”, we can reduce the sway of blatant propaganda, flaunting and acceptance of extreme anti-social behaviour through the flawed but seductive defence of “Non Judgement”

Just like Elizabeth and Darcy, through clearing prejudices, learning humility and making the good judgement, we will find Love and Beauty while banishing the false, manipulative, dangerous!

Thank you for reading and/or sharing!

PS: Update for 17/11/2015.  This post was coincidentally made hours before the Paris terror attacks by ISIS/Daesh.  Through careful and humble judgement, we are against the mindless violence on the innocent in Paris, and feel sad for Parisians.  At the same time, we do not prejudice most Muslims, who are peaceful and who spoke out against Daesh terrorism.

For those who want to understand more about ISIS/Daesh, please refer to this Wikipedia link,  detailing the ISIS crimes of ethnic cleansing, slavery etc.  The question is not about reprisals for revenge, but more of how to exercise good judgement to solve the root of the Daesh crimes against humanity.  

(It is in all probability that Daesh will not stop their crimes against humanity even if they are left alone. Rather they will likely commit more crimes.)

Image Credit: Davide Restivo

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The Paradox of Choice

Is more choice necessarily better?  More freedom?  More diverse views?

When does choice become too much of clutter?  Even a danger to trip over?

How do you deal with the confusion of too much choices?

Dr Barry Shwartz, a Psychologist, Professor and Author, has this very interesting TED video titled “The Paradox of Choice”, which garnered 10 million views (on TED website and Youtube combined).

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Thinking that the video will be intriguing preview for some of my upcoming posts on “Choice and Latitude”.  It is related to the coming Misconception 6 of “The How To’s of Daily Gratitude”, and other topics such as Empathy/Individuality, Depression and has even has ramifications on Love and Marriage (partly why people are not ready for marriage aka longer bucket lists due to more lifestyle choice).

Hope you find the video enjoyable!

Thank you for reading, watching and/or sharing.

Media Credits: Geralt, TED / Dr Barry Shwartz

Emotions and Wants

Does Gratitude mean no negative emotions and no wants?

The Part 3 of “The How To’s of Daily Gratitude” clarifies another common Gratitude misconception.

Misconception 5. With Gratitude, I will never feel negative, anxious, sad etc and have no wants.

Actual: We all are human, not machines.  Having deep Gratitude means a substantial reduction in negativity, fear, anxiety, sadness etc and fewer unreasonable wants (excluding physiological change). The negative emotions may be still present, albeit in smaller and manageable amounts.

The Effect of Focus.  The reason for reduced negativity is when we focus our attention on things we are grateful for, we focus less on negative emotions  Focusing on amplifies feelings, focusing away reduces feelings.

Girl Taking Vaccination Jabs at Age Three!

The Benefits of Good Experiences.  Just like when we take a measles etc jab when we were kids, the medical staff will get us to focus away momentarily to allay our fears, preventing us from jerking away and causing more (real) pain etc.  Some of us did not even know that the immunization was done, due to the focus away.  With that (good) experience, the next time we go for a jab, we tend to have much less fear, hence can manage better.  

Reaonable Emotional Experiences in Adverse Situations.  Similarly, if a kid had a bad emotional experience with a immunization procedure, he or she will probably be more hysterical over the prospect of a tooth extraction!  Reaonable emotional experiences in adverse situations build emotional balance and strength.  Excessive emotions do not.

Same Girl at Age Five: Been there, Done that! (Just a Little Pain)

The Authentic Choice Few Choose!  Feeling less excessive emotions due to reduced focus also does not negate our authenticity, nor mean the emotion is not there.  It is just the wisdom and strength to focus on the important and good, to keep our negative emotions managed at a level that reduces paralysis, un-informed reaction, self or mutual self destruction.  

Like the illustrated situations, managing our excessive emotions gives a more meaningfully positive outcome, and give us emotional balance and perspective the next time we face difficulties.

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Negative Focus.  Focusing on the excessive negative emotions is similar to focusing on the Irrelevant in Misconception 2.  Feeling excessive emotions does not mean that Gratitude and Positivity is not present at all times. Rather, Gratitude may be either present in weak form, temporarily disabled etc, frequently due to focus but occasionally due to physiology. Due to focus mostly, the Negative overwhelms the Positive, even when the actual situation frequently requires little to no negativity.

Gentle Awareness.  With focus on the Relevant/Important Good, Gratitude and reasonable Positivity, the role negative feelings and wants mostly serve will be more as gentle awareness  and empathy (for many, steady and alert backseat passengers/traffic lights), rather than the emotional and distracted driver/panic button.  Reasonable positivity will be in the driving seat, and negative feelings or excessive wants will be less able to cause any unnecessary disaster.  8388294551_bd815cf446_b

Traffic and Traffic Lights.  Functioning Traffic Lights and
Undistracted, Alert Drivers and Passengers Means Less Accidents

Contentment, Purpose and Reasonable Wants. Similarly, grateful people will have reasonable, achievable, low cost wants, but not excessive ones, hence a lower resource drain (less taxing and more surplus), fewer wild-goose chases and a better chance of maintaining happiness.  Grateful people achieve/have a very achievable baseline contentment, with easy long term surplus/buffer.  The journey and/or achievement of purposeful and reasonable goals etc are bonus. 

Conclusion

With true Gratitude and the free choice to focus on blessings, there are emotions and wants, but the excessive are reduced.  (We exclude the discussion of physiological changes for now)

Negative emotions now play the role of empathy and extra awareness, and have lesser chance of wrecking havoc.

Finally, the reasonable emotional experiences that Gratitude promotes in adverse situations helps builds emotional balance/bank account and strength, and ultimately bolster us in future difficult situations!

Thank you for reading and/or sharing!

Media Credits:photo credit: More alive via photopin (license), Luckygirl314, Unsplash

Common Misconceptions Debunked in Previous Post

Misconception 1: Reason for Gratitude – I have no reason to be grateful
Misconception 2. Boredom – Grateful people lead boring monotonous lives
Misconception 3. Gratitude is a Feeling – Either, I feel it or I do not

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Misconception 4. Gratitude and contentment means we do not work for improvements, and are deaf to problems.

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For a Future Post:

Misconception 6:  I am grateful for this holiday, so I am going to maximize enjoyment through packing it with as many fun-filled activities and things as I can.