“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”
The statement by the prominent philosopher Carl Jung sums up all there is to understand the judgemental society around us.
Judging others is the easiest and the most unfair way people can behave with others. Driven by self-righteousness and self-wrongness, the society tends to divide itself based on its face value and creates a deep fissure of a hierarchical system that fuels the binary worldview.
To better understand the innate nature of judging others, this writer has talked to some young members of the society, living in both urban and rural areas, and has tried to figure out the extent of judgmentalism pervading the social fabric, and how to fight it.
Why People Judge Others
The pull is to see people in a rank-order, hierarchical fashion. When two people encounter one another, one is better and one is worse. They might use any metric—wealth, status, social ability to figure out who the better person is. And the method is not healthy every time.
Ahmed Rifat Kabir, an Economics graduate and the vocalist and guitarist of an indie band ‘Shohorbondi’, shared his opinion on how judgmentalism became part of our life.
“It has been with us since the dawn of humanity, and its primary use was to perceive threat and danger and ensure our safety. As the society was violent and tumultuous, determining good or bad was as important as living itself.”
“However, as society grew safer,” Rifat continues explaining, “more interconnected, and complex, our skill of judging others turned into a vicious way of ranking ourselves. We began to judge others by their behaviour, speech, wealth, caste, creed, religion etc.”
The children judge based on their instincts. But as we grow up, if we keep using our limited exposure to judge others, it becomes problematic, thinks the young musician.
Sawgato Roy is a student of the University of Rajshahi who grew up in Barisal. He too believes that judgements are the innate human nature that may turn wrong in our modern society.
“It is an evolutionary behaviour, as the early humans began migrating; they used to find out friends and foes based on their gestures. It was then engraved in our DNA encoding in time. We all are judgemental.”
“There is a wrong notion that judgements are always negative, which is hardly true. We pass positive judgements too, and it is important for our society as well. And this judgmentalism makes a fool out of us.”
Nabila Oriana is an amateur filmmaker and feminist activist who has a different view on the topic. She believes that people judge to hide their frustrations about their lives, and they keep metaphoric comparisons with others.
“Society and family are two major influences behind one developing a judgemental outlook. I think judgements stem from the repressed desire to be like the judged person. They could not fulfil their dreams and took the frustration out on others.”
How judgements affect us
If someone is the ‘better person’ in a given scenario, he/she does not have to worry that he/she might be the ‘worse’ one. There is no reckoning with potential feelings of inferiority, shame, and generally not being good enough, and thus judgmentalism destroys relationships.
Tahmid Hasan Khan, an undergraduate student of the University of Dhaka and an official contributor to an esteemed national daily have his views regarding the issue.
“It is hard to spread positivity in a judgemental society. People tend to pull down the unique ones among them, bringing down the successful ones rather than encouraging them. They grow a tendency to downtrod others different from the masses.”
Sawgato has pointed out the inner tribalism ingrained in our collective psyche.
“Our judgements allow us to give generalised statements. We create a scenario with the general intake data by judging others, and as we belong to a certain group, we give judgements based on our surroundings and peers, even though we may not know enough to conclude.”
“Bad judgements create many issues in our lives. One such example is our rural girls, who get little chance to flourish and utilise their potentials due to collective rural society’s judgements,” Sawgato added.
Dip Ranjan Sarkar is currently pursuing an engineering degree at IIT Shibpur in India. In his words, “Competition and good judgement are important factors for our growth. However, problems occur when bad judgement hinders our potential.”
He reasons that judgemental people ruin our self-esteem and confidence as they make us question our ability and potential, making us doubt ourselves.
Mehjabeen Mostafa, a student, is also of the same opinion. Her opinion is based on her own experiences as a woman in our country, “The problems I have with people judging me mostly are about categorising my personality. Most of the time they’re wrong because of their linear way of analysis.”
In this country, females are already doomed just because they are females. Even the basic tasks are made harder for them.
Mehjabeen points out some of them, “Making her own choices in life, getting an education, learning skills and securing a decent job, staying single, not being a mother, not being an heir. Regardless of sex/gender, people are damaged by being discriminated, losing confidence, getting isolated and so on.”
Fardin Hossain, an aspiring anthropologist pursuing his degree at the University of Dhaka, has shared one of his personal experiences to underline how much a judgemental mentality can affect a person’s life.
“I was in a club where the seniors used to bully me to no end. And when I talked back, I was called hotheaded, and they told me to learn to take a joke. They accepted that I could be ridiculed.”
Nabila Oriana also shared her own experience of negative judgement for not covering her head with a scarf.
“One day, one teacher started to pick on me. To demean me, she asked me if I was Hindu, as I did not have a scarf. She told me to always carry a religious symbol. And that left a scar in my young mind.”
When people judge someone for something, they are judging themselves as the very same thing; they just have not fully owned or accepted that trait yet within themselves.
As the German poet Herman Hesse aptly wrote, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”