Three Reflections on Judgment

A few days ago I wrote a piece about “High Society”, intending to write about the importance of avoiding judgment, but instead digressed and wrote about musicals, and which ones are suitable for children. The main thing that stuck in my mind after watching the movie in 2014 was something said by the wealthy heiress Tracy Lord (played by Grace Kelly) when she drives the journalist (Frank Sinatra) out past huge, empty homes owned or previously owned by other wealthy families like hers. They have been hit hard by taxes, and she clearly sees their “plight” differently from the journalist. He has already expressed his views about the world she inhabits in song, when he and the photographer (played by Celeste Holm) ask each other, “Who wants to be a millionaire?” Their answer: “I don’t”, and “I don’t”, and (together) “cos all I want is you”.

When they set out on the journey Tracy (Grace) and the journalist (Sinatra) are at odds (and she’s driving too fast, which is rather poignant considering how Princess Grace died back in 1982). She believes that he has made her mind up about her and her family, and that he has a chip on his shoulder about them, and about the wealthy generally. My memory of their exchange was different to what was said in the movie. I thought that she had asked the question, “Do you know when the time to judge somebody is?” and then given this answer: “The time to judge somebody is never”. Watching it again earlier this evening I found that all she says is, “The time to make up your mind about people is never.” But I take it as a quote advising us to avoid judgment, as long as we’re consistent about it.

Sadly we are living in an era where the rich and powerful are quick to make judgments about the poor, and yet avoid being judged themselves. Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation as Work and Pensions Secretary over the weekend is unlikely to usher in an era of compassion and understanding for the less fortunate in society. The less fortunate will continue to be judged and blamed by people who have never known poverty.

And judgments about morality are rarely consistent. The future King of England is now married to the woman with whom he conducted a long-standing affair when they were both married to other people. Does anyone have anything to say about that? Ashley Cole and Tiger Woods (neither of them Caucasian, and both of them having made good money from their sporting abilities) have both been vilified by the tabloid press for their marital indiscretions (and of course they were both married to white-skinned women). Consistency would be good, but a less judgmental world would be better.

Back in 2014, around the time I watched “High Society”, I also read Deepak Chopra’s “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”. Like the books I alluded to in last week’s introduction to Time Management it’s the kind of thing that I’ve read so that you don’t have to. Deepak Chopra figures in the Self Help and Spirituality (or “Mind Body and Spirit”) sections of my local bookshop (not the “Smart Thinking” section that I wrote about in December). He is a renowned figure in the world of Self Help literature, and I picked up this book for £1.99 in my local Oxfam Bookshop. I’m not even sure where that copy of the book is right now but the section that stuck in my mind is all about avoiding judgment. Practise non-judgment, he advises; it’s always good advice.

My preferred quote about judgment comes from the Gospel According to Luke (chapter 6, verse 37, one of the few places in the Bible where I can give chapter and verse without having to look them up). “Do not judge and you will not be judged”. And it goes further: “Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Whether we take your advice from a Grace Kelly movie, or Deepak Chopra, or the Gospels, a less judgmental world would be a better place to live in.


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