Observe Instead of Judging
We learn in our culture to judge. We judge everything and everyone as good or bad, pretty or ugly, “cool” or “lame”, based upon largely external criteria: the cars people drive, the clothes they wear or the shape of their body. We even judge a day based on “good” or “bad” weather. When we judge, there are only two options: right and wrong. Each person judges by their own set of experiences and feels that their judgment is “right”, but everyone’s experience is different so people’s judgments disagree. The result is that everyone lives in isolation even from their closest family and friends. When we judge, we glorify all that is “right” and condemn or forgive all that is “wrong”. When we judge, we spend half our time feeling better than others (“I’m in the right”) and the other half forgiving them (“They’re wrong but I’ll have mercy on them”). When we take this attitude to ourselves, we become our own police. We judge our actions or feelings “right” or “good” and are pleased. We judge them “wrong” or “bad” and think we deserve punishment or need to forgive ourselves.
Observation, on the other hand, requires no forgiveness. All people are learning and growing at their own rate, and they may move faster or further than we do. All actions have consequences, and it is by observing the consequences that we learn how the world works. One person’s interpretation of things won’t always work for another, nor vice versa. We need not necessarily abandon or discount our own interpretation, but we can agree to disagree when perspectives clash. Who knows what the future may bring – a view held by someone a few years ago may have changed, but someone else may be encountering that idea for the first time and that is ok.
Try to observe ideas, beliefs, and actions and decide what works for you. Give others the freedom to choose what they wish and accept their choice. This does not necessarily mean that you shouldn’t defend yourself from aggressive physical or emotional conflict, but if you give yourself space to observe you may find that acceptance and retreat are more useful tools than anger, fear, and attack. Also, if a situation doesn’t involve you personally, taking a stance of observation allows you to let others learn from their own mistakes.