When is an opinion really a judgement?

During my scheduled Twitter time last night I came across a link to an article on a popular website. To keep things in perspective it was a website that sometimes posts controversial articles that provoke response and debate from readers, as most blogazine style websites do. The article was about a mother who was contemplating getting her young baby’s ears pierced even though her husband was against the idea. As I read the article my own opinion began forming in my head about whether I think it was appropriate or not, but as I continued to read the many comments left by readers I began to feel really uncomfortable.

Many were sharing their own experiences which is fine, some were sharing their calmly sharing their opinion and reasons but others were blatantly judgemental. They were harsh, critical and there was even same name calling. The way in which some commenters were stating their views was simply rude and uncalled for and totally unacceptable. And that is what upset me.

It is fine to have an opinion.Of course it is. We all do. Our opinions are based on our intuition, our upbringing and our moral values and have been formed over time. ¬†They are neither right or wrong, they are simply our beliefs. Sharing opinions is important. It allows for a balanced way of thinking. I know myself I often read peoples opinions on issues that to begin with I may not agree with, however they open my eyes to a different way of thinking, perhaps even a better way. Sometimes my own opinion is changed or shaped based on seeing things from an angle that I hadn’t originally considered.

Judgment however is a different matter.

When you judge someone based on your own differing opinion, that is judgement.

We all pass judgment at one time or another, perhaps more than we like to admit. It is human nature. Think about how many times you view someone by their looks, the clothes they wear, the car they drive. You form an opinion of them. What about celebrities? We continually make judgement on their antics both good and bad – and we don’t even know them.

One of my favourite phrases is:

“Don’t judge my actions until you have walked in my shoes”

Of which there are many different versions. But that statement is one I try to practice every day.

Passing judgement on people only leads to negativity. We see it all the time on the internet. Snide comments in blog posts, horrible replies on articles, bullying on social media sites. No good can come of purely passing judgement on another persons opinion, views or beliefs.

The internet and the modern day world we live in has a lot to answer for. What was once reserved the ‘opinion’ section of newspapers is now possible for everyone via the world wide web. Anyone can have their own platform or soapbox to spew forth our opinions and views.

In many ways it is a fantastic opportunity for us to learn and be exposed to many different ways of thinking. I can help us understand cultural differences, religious backgrounds and a wide range of ideas and thought processes. If only we all used it for good, but unfortunately there are many out there who see it as an opportunity to force their judgement upon others. They are blinded by their apparent narrow minded opinions. They believe their opinion to be fact, not a point of view. It is a sad way to be.

It comes down to respect.

We need to get back to basics and teach our children to be respectful and tolerant of others.To value discussion and opinion as a way of learning and developing our own knowledge and understanding, and to be accepting of those with different views.

But we as adults need to practice what we preach.

The next time you find yourself jumping to a judgement call, stop. Look at things from a different perspective. Another’s opinion, their reasoning, their views. Not in order to change your own opinion but to perhaps see another side of the story and walk in their’ shoes. Who knows what you may discover.

And remember:

Judging someone doesn’t define who they are, it defines who you are.

 

Writing this post I came across this wonderful article via ZenHabits. It’s something I think we all should read. Click here to read.

 

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