I finally made some progress on the work server yesterday evening after some effort, so I had the chance to read a bit more about the 44 Scotland Street residents as envisaged by McCall Smith (who knew working with computers could be good for catching up on my reading?). As I mentioned a couple of posts ago Pat had upset Bruce and as a result went to talk to her neighbour Domenica about it and the conversation turns to how personalities change with age. Pat suggests that older people become more judgemental and Domenica questions (rather sharply it feels to me) what is wrong with being judgemental. Domenica then goes on to explain why being judgemental is so important. She talks about how society wouldn’t have a moral viewpoint, or how everything would come to a stop without rational thought. She advises Pat, “don’t fall for that weak-minded nonsense about not being judgemental”.
For me, this is food for thought because one of my main principles in life is not to be judgemental. So I’ve been thinking about this opposite point of view. Where to start though?
Last night on Facebook a friend posted a video of two men wearing kilts doing yoga in a forest. Now I am not sure it was yoga personally, I think I would describe it as gymnastics myself. As I watched the video I wondered why their kilts were longer than usual (there is a general rule that when a man kneels down in a kilt, the hem should just be off the ground) though I suspected it was something to do with modesty. As the end of the video you see one of the men going into a handstand position and as he raises he legs, his kilt falls down over his torso to reveal a bare bottom. The camera zooms out and the other guy is in the same position equally naked. I laughed at this, particularly as the close-up handstand guy had to wiggle his waist a bit to get the folds of the kilt off his right buttock.
Now I think this is a great video because I love seeing how people can achieve these amazing feats of strength, flexibility and balance (Max Whitlock and fellow gymnasts were a highlight of the Rio Olympics for me) whilst combining it with humour. What I objected to was the comment made by the friend posting it, “One for the ladies perhaps, sorry gents.” This niggled away at me and eventually I decided to write a comment and said, “That’s not a very inclusive statement”, primarily thinking about me but also LBGT people. I felt a bit shaky about writing anything, was I over-reacting? And in hindsight perhaps it would have been better to say “I enjoyed the video, though I would have expected to see more body hair” but I didn’t. The reply I got was, “you can’t please everyone” which I immediately thought “true, but you could try”. I didn’t reply back because it felt to me to be deteriorating into playground banter. This morning my partner pointed out that the poster may have been reacting to a man objecting about men being excluded which happens in her experience with women’s business groups; it wouldn’t have been the first time I have miscommunicated. I have to say, I find it all rather confusing but perhaps that is just me.
So I made a judgement call and I’m still not sure it was the right thing to do. From psychology I know some of the theories about how the brain works and in particular about how our brains are able to access information quickly and make near instant decisions. Schema theory assumes we have templates (schema) set down from experience and basic instincts which we are constantly applying in any situation so for instance I may see a group of young men drunk and without thinking be alert for danger even though the worst experience I have had is my hat been stolen in a pub after an international rugby match at Murrayfield. It is as though humans are programmed to constantly make judgements and I know it is something I do too.
There is a contradiction there then, I think making judgements are bad but constantly do it anyway. I remember being on a self-improvement course a few years back and refining my thinking. It is part of who I am to constantly make (often negative) judgements about people, and that is okay, what I decided to do is to say “fuck it, it doesn’t matter” and let those judgements go. Sometimes as Domenica says, judgements are necessary but I think the context matters too. Perhaps it is because I am not great with the whole emotions thing, but I think judgements should be made on a solidly constructed framework. We live in societies that are bound by rules based on principles and developed into laws but societies move on and we need to constantly question and update those laws. It isn’t just about judgements then, it is about the context those judgements are made in. Homosexual sex used to be illegal, but now in my country it isn’t, society has moved on.
Going back to the book, would I judge Bruce as a “waste of space” as Domenica does? He is certainly very irritating and probably somebody I would avoid personally (lying is so confusing) but surely he means something to his parents and his girlfriends (if only in the short term)? No, I can’t bring myself to say he is a waste of space but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like him.
Challenging judgements though requires looking for opinions and I am not sure I invite that enough. This is my two hundredth post. I currently have seventy-three followers and the most popular post I have done was the one about the walk I did on Gozo, though I am not sure why. In celebration of my two hundredth post achievement I want to ask you to do me a favour and make some judgements. Tell me what you like about my blog but also try to give some constructive criticism. Be as specific or general as you like but please make a judgement or two. And oh don’t worry about have a having “a solidly constructed framework”, I do understand that decisions can be made on an emotional level too!
Thank you for reading.