Hey everybody slow down with all the judgmental thinking. Everyone’s gotten very absolute recently. Increasingly since the 80’s there’s been this polarization of everything. Politics is more divided and vehement. People’s uninformed opinions about child-rearing will be offered aggressively to total strangers. People argue about the environment and art—particularly music. It used to humbler. More often it would be I like this or that band, and now it’s become my band’s genius and yours shouldn’t even exist.
People will talk like nations will collapse if certain governments got into power and yet if the news didn’t tell them who won an election the vast majority of people’s actual lives would have virtually no indications of which party was in power at what time—because life really changes more due to what’s going on immediately around us than by what government is in power.
Even in friendship things are upside down. I was horrified to hear about a study that demonstrated that modern students minds see a strong link between friendship and likes. Yikes. Your best friend isn’t the friend that always agrees with you. That’s a lap dog. Everyone’s unique so if you talk long enough you’ll have opinions that differ from even those closest to you. But your best friend isn’t just a cheerleader. They are also the person that will speak up on your behalf even when you won’t and no one else will either.
If you’re drinking too much and people at the office are starting to smell it, then it’s not the people that smile and pretend they don’t know. Those aren’t your friends. No, it’s the guy who takes you into your office, closes the door and tells you that he’s concerned about your drinking. That guy gets hated. You hate that guy for telling you that because you know it’s true and you wanted to keep living the way you were. Plus the office will hate that guy for causing a scene. But he doesn’t care about that because your friend cares about you. And he can see your life from the outside and so he knows you’re heading for disaster. And so he speaks up, even though it will likely cost him the friendship. That’s how much a best friend loves you. They’ll break their own hearts just so that you benefit.
People get into camps now. They try and win. The other side is stupid. Anti-Vaccine Pro-Vaccine, Pro GMO Anti-GMO, Protect Animals Eat Meat. Honda Toyota, Pepsi Coke, it goes on and on. And so few people can see the other side as being in any way reasonable. Too many people are just shouting and no one’s listening. There’s some good arguments to be heard on both sides of most issues. But you have to actually listen for them. You cannot tell them.
Other people know things you don’t and so you have to listen to them to find out what those things are. Because if you can listen to both sides evenly and you have a decent mind for reason, then you’ll be fine. But, if you’re deciding based on dogma—and you don’t even really examine any other ideas—then you can’t really say that you’ve come to the conclusion that your answer is the best one. You’ve voluntarily left data out, so in essence you are guessing. Science checks. Logic checks. Mathematics checks. There’s no absolute reality. But the measurements of science are the closest thing we have to a shareable reality.
If you’ve only voted for one party your entire life, and you’ve never supported an idea by any other party, then you can’t really say that you chose your position through examination. You adopted it culturally maybe, or you inherited it, or your society insists on it, but again—it isn’t a conclusion if it’s never changed in 40 years. Come on, not only do you change a lot in 40 years, but every party accidentally elects at least one unqualified person every 40 years.
Most of your opinions are entirely unexamined regardless of what they’re about. If you were actually questioned on any subject on which you’d offered an opinion in the last week, you would freeze up as you realized you know almost nothing about it. Not the court cases in the news, not the headlines on facebook, not even about subjects you probably should know more about, like all of the important the rules of the road or how to look after your health, or what breed of dog best suits your lifestyle.
We all have to stop having knee-jerk opinions that see babies thrown out with the bathwater. We’re throwing too many good ideas away in our attempt to oppose the other. Instead we use our ability shape our media landscape and so now we build egotistical shrines to our own opinions with our choice of shares. We must open our minds. We must begin to listen to people we have marginalized or blocked out. It’s not like the world couldn’t use some new ideas that would create opportunities to grow and learn and expand.
If we all spend a bit less time judging and a lot more time having fun, life will be even more rewarding going forward. But we really do have to stop focusing on any differences and focus instead on the fact that we all want fundamentally the same things out of life—namely love, joy support and inspiration. Ready? Less judging more compassion: go!
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.