Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Judging people fairly

'Don't Judge a person til you find yourself in his place'
The Talmud

The above aphorism has been interpreted in many ways over the centuries. Here are three basic interpretations:

a) One can never judge others, for one will never find himself in their exact circumstances: I.e. share their genetic makeup, temptations, upbringing, knowledge, feelings, etc;
b) One may only judge another if he effectively imagines himself in their shoes, that is, empathises with him as much as possible. For then, judgement is tempered by a sense of the other's personal hardships and challenges.
c) If one discovers, for example, that someone stole money under extreme financial pressure, they shouldn't judge them unless they've had to cope with similar pressure.

Let's apply each of these interpretations to judging a skateboarder's ability:

a) Ultimately we can never really judge an other's achievement level. This is because achievement is relative to an individuals overall state of affairs. Thus, if we feel the urge to judge others negatively, our inevitable ignorance of their circumstances should preclude any judgement whatsoever.

b) A highly skilled skater can appreciate the abilities of less skillful skaters if he empathizes with their situation - i.e. their time limitations for practice; their lack of natural ability; their acute fear levels, etc.

c) A non-skater watching skaters perform tricks is typically impressed by conspicuously difficult tricks such as high airs or flip tricks down large sets of stairs. However, one who skates himself and experiences the difficulty of learning even basic manoeuvres, prizes skaters' abilities incomparably more - even those that appear unimpressive to the non-skater.

However, all the above does not apply to judging a skater's skill level - as judges at competitions do. For 'objective' skill level can be gauged, and some skaters are clearly more advanced than others. The aphorism doesn't state: 'don't judge a person's actions', for actions can be judged for their moral - or in our case, skill - value. Rather, it states, 'don't judge a person', for who knows, perhaps the inept skater has actually done better with the cards he's been dealt than the more adept one...                         

1 comment:

  1. In other words, one shouldn't think badly of a person for being involved in an unsuitable activity, but from an objective moral standpoint, he can still recognise that it's WRONG.