Rush to Judgment: A growing pandemic

We human beings have always been prone to judgment, but today it’s growing to pandemic proportions as people all around the world are rushing to judgment.

This topic has captured my attention in recent months as I continue to watch “news” reports that both frame our judgments and highlight the judgments of others. Here are examples to illustrate my point.

Governor Cuomo

The spate of accusations of sexual impropriety have resulted in calls for Governor Cuomo’s resignation. While the number of allegations would make it likely that there is merit to them, I do not feel that I can make an informed judgment until the investigation is complete. 

Yet, virtually all of the New York legislature, as well as both U.S Senators from New York, in a rush to judgment, are calling for Cuomo’s resignation. 

Police-involved shootings

Similarly, the “news” media show 3 to 4 seconds of video of police-involved shootings. From these clips, we form judgments about what happened and our attitudes toward the parties involved. 

I find myself doing this, and I assume I’m not unique in this regard. Yet, if I were a juror in one of these trials, I would demand to see the entire video in addition to hearing the testimony of those involved. It’s the only way I would feel that I could make an informed judgment.

I’m not suggesting that Cuomo isn’t guilty or that the officers involved aren’t guilty, what I am saying is that I don’t know, can’t know, without more information. Yet, the vast majority of the public is making judgments about who is right and who is at fault. These judgments are also forming calls to action that may or may not deal with the actual problem.

Again, I’m not suggesting that action isn’t needed. I’m saying that actions born of emotion are often regretted because they do not deal with the real underlying issues.

This rush to judgment is further fueled by the opportunity to share our beliefs, whether founded in fact or not, in social media. Our willingness to accept what we hear, or see, as fact without subjecting the information to scrutiny results in a rush to judgment, something that’s occurring with greater and greater frequency. And it’s dangerous.

Danger

Imagine for a moment that you said something that was later taken out of context and used against you. As you try to explain that what you said was taken out of context, as you attempt to communicate what you intended to say, others aren’t willing to listen to you; they’ve already formed their judgment.

Can you imagine how unfair that would feel? What if their unwillingness to listen resulted in you being punished whether through isolation, limited career growth or criminal charges. These are the risks we all face when we’re willing to rush to judgment.

Don’t fool yourself. You can’t retain the right to rush to judgment without extending the same right to others. So what’s the solution?

Solution

Whenever you hear a story that elicits an emotional reaction, pause. During the pause, you’ll find that your emotions subside. Then remind yourself:

  • I don’t have enough information to form a judgment.
  • Judgments like good or bad, right or wrong, bias my thinking. They limit the options I see for dealing with the situation.
  • Absent judgment, I’m able to see what triggered the situation. In doing so, I’m able to get ahead of the curve. I can prevent future occurrences rather than continually fixing problems.

Aren’t we all better off when we can avoid creating problems? I know that I’m a lot happier when I can devote my energies to pursuing what I desire instead of fixing problems of my own creation.

For you

Each morning, shortly after rising, remind yourself that you’re not going to judge things, people or situations as good or bad, right or wrong? Instead, you’ll evaluate each objectively, knowing that nothing is all good or all bad, all right or all wrong, there are tradeoffs in every choice we make.

By suspending judgment, you make your life simpler. You create fewer problems for yourself and, in doing so, experience a life free of fear, anxiety and frustration…a great way to live.

For our kids

As you observe your kids rushing to judgment, ask them questions that help them see that they are forming judgments without knowing all the facts. Then ask them “How would you feel if someone did that to you?”

Teach them the power of pause in reducing the stress they feel when they’re judging. Then help them see how judgments clouds their thinking. Help them see how judgments prevent them from seeing other solutions to the problems they face. And how judgments based on emotions often lead to poor choices, choices that add to their problems instead of alleviating them.

With your guidance, they’ll stop judging and begin dealing effectively with whatever they face. They’ll thank you for freeing them of fear, anxiety and frustration judgments trigger.

Feel free to share this blog with those you feel would benefit from this message. It’s an easy way to say “I love you. I’m thinking of you.”

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, share your thoughts in a comment.

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