Let me judge!

Let me convince you that I will make an excellent judge. I have vast experience of judging; I mean judging people! I can instantly give snap judgement on almost anything happening around us. I am qualified for the role too, yes, I am an Indian and that too a bong. Power of judgement is in-built in me. You may be thinking “what an idiot, I can also judge”. But you are missing the point. I can judge without much thinking. Yes, I mostly use my instinct, sometimes I use my sixth sense, sometimes my profound prejudices. I give judgements on the spot, “gorom gorom”, absolutely fast track – that makes me special and different from you. I have friends and families who are also very good judges. That makes me a hereditary judge.

Yesterday I was chit-chatting with a group of people who were discussing different set of other people. There is a guy called Ramiz, he doesn’t talk much – all he responds to anyone’s question is with a little “hm”. Everyone was rolling on the floor laughing how silly he behaves, only knows how to say “hm”, “ha ha ha, ho ho ho”, so very funny. Then there is another guy we know who doesn’t stop talking. People were all bursting out laughing, what a chatter box, he shoots from the hip, “ha ha ha, ho ho ho“, so very funny. And then there is the other guy who is a “diplomat” and people are sick of his diplomacy, his problem is he never takes a stand. He will never support you or oppose you, “that’s his big problem?”. “Yes. If someone can hide so much of his emotions inside then he must be thinking too much, must be calculating all the time”, “He is veeery shrewd”, “he is absolutely spineless”. Yes, you heard it right someone’s diplomatic behavior has to do with his machismo. But then there is another guy who always takes a side and a fight, because he must express his opinions all the times! He is taking it too far, it’s not good. See his problem? The other day he told me “if you don’t like it then why did you come?”, How can he say something like that on my face? How come he be so rude to me? Yes, he is rude, someone is spineless, the other one is too quiet, someone else is a chatter box – endless tagging and the process goes on.

There was a maid in my aunt’s house called “Malati”. She was very hard-working, jolly and my aunt was happy. One day my aunt lost her necklace, very expensive one. She looked everywhere but no luck. By the evening suddenly she said, “I know where it is”, I said “where?” And she gave me the most curious look of all, like she has been struck by some divine light from the sky, her eyes glowed like the ones of a detective and said “Malati”, I said “Malati what?” She said “she took it”. I was shocked at Malati’s unfaithful behavior, how could she do this to us, we trusted her so much. I was upset but curious and asked “when did you see her steeling it?”. She said “I didn’t see, I know it”. Oh, my aunt didn’t see her steeling, it is her considered view that Malati must have stolen it. My insatiable curiosity sometimes knows no bounds and I tried digging it further and said, “If you haven’t seen her stealing it, then how come you be so sure?”,  she said “You don’t know these people”. Yes, that is perhaps one of the most clichéd expression of Indian elders which is supposed to be an indicator of their wisdom, “you don’t know”.  I wonder how do they know? They know because they were born before us and their elders at some point of time told the same to them and that’s how they know and now it’s their turn to pass it to us, “You don’t know!”. Amazing knowledge transfer mechanism. Generation to generation this profound piece of wisdom of “you don’t know” has been propagating. However, the newer generation has always remained as clueless as their ancestors about the exact nature of it. But they did not forget to pass it to their predecessors with much alacrity and sense of pride. I honestly believe our elders should one day sit down and disclose the big secret about their source of prudence on matters in which humanly logic fails to penetrate easily. Anyway, coming back to the story, couple of days later my aunt’s necklace was found behind the corner sofa under some rugged clothes. When she told me about it I gave her a look and her response was “if she didn’t take it, how did it go there? Does it have legs?“. I was like “No it doesn’t have legs … but does that … ” but I was interrupted immediately by her “Don’t trust these people, You don’t know them”. Now she is not just being judgmental but trying to defend the indefensible by some further obscure judgement of hers. The reason behind her unstoppable persuasion is simple. Deep down her mind she thinks she cannot be wrong, moreover her age-old prudence cannot be untrue like her ancestors. Just to put things into perspective, it is not just my aunt, in my later life I discovered this is epidemic. It has nothing to do with age, it is in our head, perhaps as they say in our “blood”, and if you are not convinced by what I am saying my obvious defense will be, “You don’t know”.

My son the other day was insisting on having a burger. I said “no”. He said “why?” I said “burgers are bad”.  Then he started insisting to have cold drinks. I said “no”. He said “why”, I said “bad”. Then he said “but you had cold drinks last night”. I said “well adults can have it”. He said “but …”, I said “no more arguments”, he said “why?”, I said “arguing  with your elders is bad!”. And he stopped. He perhaps could see the point, that there is no point. My inherited wisdom “things are just bad” (and it’s not necessary to have a reason always) paid off once again.

I think being judgmental is not outrageous. What is outrageous is when you see the same class of people preaching about how bad it is to be “judgmental”. You will often see these people taking part in debates and arguing vehemently how society should not be judgmental about, such as, “girls”, what they wear, what they talk, what they listen, where they go. And in the next moment someone among them is like, “You know they bought a new car because we bought a new car, so jealous“, and I am like, “Wait, they bought a new car maybe because they wanted a new car and maybe it’s completely coincidental, how do you?“, and I see thousands “You don’t know“s are being hurled at me like it was blasphemous to oppose the judgement. Society is abstract to me, I cannot see or talk to it. But I can see the people who are living in the society and invariably what they are doing is passing their loaded judgments on everything all the time. How come the same people be neutral on anything? People do not just contain themselves in their judgmental world; they have to come out in the open and give a speech on “how one should not be judgmental“, about say, gay marriages, just to make the point that they are also in the league of “liberals” and not “judgmental”.

People’s latest judgement point is FaceBook. Well educated responsible citizens are carefully observing FaceBook activities of others to make up their minds about them (their “Friends”). I keep on hearing discussions how other people are mean and jealous because they didn’t like their last holiday pictures in “Paris”, “they are so jealous“, “they are so mean“. It’s mind boggling to see how well versed people are trusting a social media software to make judgement about other people, whether they are mean or jealous. I will tell you why these kind of snap judgments are far from correct: (A) maybe everyone else do not take FaceBook as seriously as you do or (B) maybe they don’t like pressing like button as often or (C) maybe they didn’t genuinely like the pictures and they have stopped pretending as a New Year resolution or (D) maybe they are fed up with your incessant FaceBook posts. How any of these make them mean or jealous. At this point I am literally screaming, do you see the point here? I am just trying to say it maybe something other than they being mean or jealous. Do you agree? If you do, do you see how frivolous it is to make a serious judgement based on someone’s social media behavior particularly because possibilities are so many?  What do you think Mark Zuckerberg must be thinking at this point, “Let the Stupids fight, let me make as much out of it”.  Cut to, an advertisement pops up on your FB page “Are you depressed from peer pressure? Do you want a new car? Do you want a 4 nights holiday in Paris?”. Do not click it, because what if after coming back from the Paris trip people do not like it in FaceBook and you will be depressed again, so what’s the point?

We will first judge, and then announce it in the most matter of fact way to the world. “Ooo? Oje ki jinis!” (“Him? Huh! do you know what kind of  person he is?“) – that is a stereotypical announcement of a typical Bengali judge, that he wants to pronounce his verdict on someone else, because he thinks he has special expertise on that subject. You will notice, though these are someone’s opinion, these are surprisingly missing “In my opinion” or “I think” type of preludial phrases. Perhaps because most of these are coming out without much of cerebral activity or maybe these are gospel, I don’t know.

I am not saying westerners are not judgmental, they do have their own set of prejudices. But we are obsessed about it. We have somehow unconsciously made it way of our life. We are obsessed to the extent that we start believing in our own biased judgments. I used to work in a start-up in India and people were usually braggy there. Me being an introvert, and not-opening-up-easily type, I was seen to be a weak, dull and unintelligent character. One day the HR lady, while in a chit-chat with others, very casually declared “People who talk more are more intelligent than others. They can think more and hence talk more”.  I am not entirely sure how much diligent research has gone into it before coming to that conclusion nor I know if that assessment has any particular scientific basis otherwise. But she said it with utmost conviction, almost as if Philip Kotler himself whispered the golden words into her ears one day. This is when being judgmental turns dangerous. When you start to institutionalize your biased judgement and and start believing in it, moreover start spreading it like it’s some sort of a rule for others to follow, you actually start affecting others lives in a negative way.  In this case the prejudice of that HR woman overshadowed her rationale thinking and this will affect the future of a potential good but introvert candidate when she will be out there for hiring.  This is when the biased judgement turns ugly.

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