Sunday, January 05, 2014

In Praise of Judging

I think being judgmental is underrated and unfairly maligned nowadays. I'm not talking about judging people on the color of their skin or on their gender or on their sexual orientation or what-have-you (I'm a bi white female Democrat, BTW). These "criteria" were, unfortunately, how many WERE judged until fairly recently -- thus the social upheaval beginning in the late 60s, a necessary response to the insane rigidity of American society up 'til that point.

In recent years, however, the pendulum has swung way too far in the other direction: You're now called a racist if you want to tighten criteria for being eligible for welfare/unemployment. You're anti-woman if you agree that abortions shouldn't be allowed after, say, 3 or 4 months. You're anti-gay if you criticize sleeping around for both straights and gays. You're anti-education if you're pro merit pay for teachers and testing for students. You're anti-environment if you question the concept of global warming, wondering if natural heating/cooling cycles (as geologically recorded) are not also in play. Taken scarily further: You're a bully if you intellectually criticize someone's work. (On a minor personal note RE the latter: Just days ago I was called, in an e-mail, a "cunt," a "bitch," and a "snobbish hag" for stating online that it was ridiculous for someone who had admittedly never read a single Joan Crawford biography to present themselves online as an expert on Joan Crawford.)

I think that "intellectual rigor" has in recent years been somehow unfortunately recategorized under the too-wide, negative umbrella of "judgmentalism." And I think general standards have, as a result, deteriorated mightily.

Tonight's "Let Me Be the Judge" entry is from a random "Mommy Blog" that I just came across (I was fascinated by how very different this woman's New Year's entry was from mine):

Random New Year’s thoughts;
No one is perfect and this life is our opportunity to live imperfectly.
It’s the moments that count and make up a joyous life so live them to the fullest.
Life doesn’t turn out how you plan, it turns out better.
If you go see one movie in January make it The Secret Life of Walter Mitty-this is one you’ll want to see on the big screen, plus it’s very uplifting
“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” -The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

(1) "No one is perfect and this life is our opportunity to live imperfectly." Well, sure, obviously, "no one is perfect." And, sure, obviously, "this life is our opportunity to live imperfectly." But what's the point in stroking people for being mediocre? It's an unfortunate state to be lived with since it can't be helped, not something to be lauded with a slogan. 
(2) "It's the moments that count and make up a joyous life so live them to the fullest." The "joyous life" concept is a weird modern fallacy. "Joy" is not the norm and never has been the norm throughout history. There are moments of joy, sure, but as a whole, as a constant? No way.
(3) "Life doesn't turn out how you plan, it turns out better." ARE YOU KIDDING? I don't know a single person who thinks that their life turned out better than their initial dreams.
(4) The "Walter Mitty" movie stuff: Haven't seen the 2013 movie, but from every review I've read, it has very little to do, psychologically, with the original Thurber story in the New Yorker, which has a mild-mannered man fantasizing about escaping from his overbearing wife.
Just judgin'.

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