Someone who has an opinion is often thought to be judgemental, now that’s an unfair judgement. In fact I believe the word Judge needs a hard look before we jump to conclusions regarding a person’s intent during a conversation. I think evaluation is appropriate. It keeps us safe from dangerous situations and people who may wish to harm us. Judgement implies sentencing and I’m not for that. Society sometimes has to judge and individuals who are authorized by governments to make judgement must tread carefully, lest their judgement ends up doing harm. In my experience judgement can lead to abuse.
For example, I may be walking in the wilds and come across a bear. I have heard that bears are dangerous, shouldn’t be fed and may strike out when cornered. My personal conclusion is to give bears a wide berth. My evaluation may suggest bears and I have to find ways to co-exist. That would be my preference. It would be wrong to judge, that because of my evaluation, all bears must be killed or be put in cages.
I have been in conversations where someone has said, “Now don’t judge me.” This usually means that the person is not sure how I would feel about their behaviour. I have to reassure them that I’m not here to judge. I might jokingly say that they are in luck because I didn’t have my gavel with me that day. Or I might refer to Sammy Davis Jr. posing as a judge on the television show Laugh-in and uttering what would become one of comedy’s first memes “Here Come Da Judge! ”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hIcKkKID8k . Hippies might have said, “I don’t care about your behaviour, just don’t hurt anyone.”
Polite manners of speech often force us into thinking along the lines of judging or being judged. Too bad, since once an emotional line has been crossed both sides stop trying to come to a mutual conclusion. A threat has been perceived, thoughtful exchange degenerates into shouting or worse. When an evaluation can come about as a result of full participation then no judgement is really necessary, only planning together for resolution of the original problem. No further protest is needed since there is a will to rectify rather than justify.
I’ve been shaped by film as some people are shaped by books or influential mentors. One of the themes of A Christmas Carol (1951, starring Alastair Sim) is judgement. In a memorable scene at a rag shop, characters gather to talk of their employer after his death:
Charwoman, “Why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime? …If he had been, he’d have had somebody to look after him…”
Mrs. Dilber, “It’s the truest word that ever was spoke…It’s a judgment on him.”
This scene is the clincher. Lucky for Scrooge he is given a view of his selfish, misguided life while he still has a chance to change it. He sees the truth in his charwoman’s statement, not in judgement, but in genuine curiosity; “Why wasn’t he kinder?”