We hear it in the media, our cultural sensitivity training, and even from the Pope: who am I to judge?
Tolerance, open-mindedness, and understanding of people with different beliefs is the anthem of the correct, the battle cry of those fighting for the love and acceptance we all long for (right?).
But there’s something about this 100% acceptance rate that bothers me: we forget to differentiate between people and ideas.
We can probably agree that the appropriate attitude toward people is love. Sometimes love challenges and confronts, because it cares for the good of the other, right? It can call people out and change us. Love doesn’t stay the same. Think about a marriage or good friendship. Do you stay on the same level forever? No. The relationship grows and stretches with highs and lows. And that’s beautiful. We sacrifice and do hard things when we love people. We accept and love people because they are people, whether or not we agree with what they think and believe.
Now, we might disagree on how to handle ideas. I think we have a major problem when we treat ideas the same way as people. Ideas are concepts that we should examine, not accept because of what they are. We need to think deeply about and ask ourselves if it is true. Ideas can be wrong or disordered or stupid, and it’s okay to recognize that. Many people, I think, have lost this distinction, and assume that if you hold a disagreeing belief you must be the thing that is stupid, not your idea.
I recently made the mistake of entering a comment box regarding the redirection of funds away from Planned Parenthood. I replied to some (false and stupid) ideas in the comment section with facts and sources, explaining my belief and backing it up. I had to laugh at some point about the replies, because they were absurd.
For example, people assumed I was a mean-spirited Republican who voted for Trump, just trying to defend my stupid political affiliation. I am not a Republican and did not vote for Trump. But even if I did, that wouldn’t make me stupid. It’s the same concept about how we tell kids nowadays “that was a bad choice” and not “you are bad”. There’s a difference.
According to those people, I am an “embarrassment to intelligent women” because I have a belief different than theirs. But that thought out position of mine is on an issue I have researched and continue to read about extensively. I’m happy to talk about it. And I understand why people think differently. So let’s talk about and see what’s right.
When we put up walls between us and people we disagree with, we can’t talk about the issue we’re facing. We’re not going to get anywhere except our own heads, which are already filled with ideas we think are right. But what if we’re not right? If our idea is wrong, and we believe things that aren’t true, we’re never going to realize that if we stay stuck in a bubble. And doesn’t that matter?
I will listen to you and your story. I will love you and try to understand you. I might call you out if you have a stupid idea too. And you know what? I hate being told I’m wrong, but I’d want to know. It’s important to judge whether or not our ideas are right, or we’ll be stuck in our own heads forever.
Who am I to judge?
I’m a person who wants to know the truth.
So I’m going to keep researching and judging ideas in order to reach the truth.
Recognizing truth and providing evidence to support your belief isn’t an accusation of your being stupid. It’s an invitation into debate and truth-seeking that is only possible if we admit we might be wrong.
May we all increase our ability to admit that.
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P. P.S. Have you been judged to be a stupid person because of a belief? Did you do that to someone else? Please share in the comments and let’s chat! Even if we disagree 😉
6 thoughts on “Judging people vs ideas”
This is such a hard concept to wrap our minds around in the climate of our current society, that we’re not judging a person’s intrinsic goodness or badness by judging their ideas. I think it goes along with the distinction between “judging” and “condemning” — I’ve heard priests talk about this in homilies before, that we can legitimately judge the moral worth of people’s actions (or ideas) without condemning them as a person. This post is great food for thought!
That’s a very good distinction between judging and condemnation. I don’t think condemning people is ever appropriate – as in, telling someone they’re going to hell or beyond hope. But I think we do need to be more careful about judging the morality of our own actions and beliefs, and things other people say to us and put in our feeds – not to be the morality police, but because it’s freeing to live according to the truth. I’m really encouraged to see people recognizing this an making more of an effort to find the truth, which can certainly be hard nowadays! Thanks for stopping by.
Um, wow! This was incredible. You explained that so perfectly. We’re losing logical and critical thinking in our society, because we can’t bear to criticize opinions. Thank you for the encouragement.
Thanks for stopping by! I know I have thicker skin than some people, so this can definitely be harder than it sounds. But if we are after the truth, I hope we can get better at admitting when we’re wrong to get there 🙂
I have been called some terrible things online. My “favorite” is getting called anti-science because I am against abortion, despite me biological facts about human development. I love that you have made the distinction between what is actually being judged. It seems that it happens all too often.
Seriously – it had been a while since I got into a comment box, aaaaand now I remember why. People can say such nasty things hidden behind the screen. I have been called and accused of absolutely ridiculous things and gross things. Sorry you’ve experienced that too. The anti-science thing is hilarious, I think, because hello! Who’s the one denying the SCIENTIFIC information found in every embryology textbook ever? Being pro-life is logical, scientific, and the most humane stance on the issue.
I can definitely be stubborn sometimes. But I sincerely hope I’m never so committed to being “right” that I sacrifice what is true. Solidarity from another truth seeker!
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