Last evening was too beautiful a balmy winter’s night to pass up a brisk walk to settle my heart, loosen my body, and clear my mind, so I put on my walking shoes after dinner and hit the pavement. As soon as I began I felt my feelings about the day’s events line up like soldiers on a battlefield preparing for a skirmish, the winner of which would determine how I felt about the day overall.
I realized as this process was working out in me that my faith in humanity would either wax or wane based on the outcome. But was that right? Could I really let this internal conversation – most of which was occurring in my heart, in my feeling realm – determine such an important aspect of my worldview without the logic and reason of my rational mind weighing in on the matter?
So, I thought about it further and put my mind to work with as little prejudice or confirmation bias as presently possible (which I imagine should be the topic of another post). Yes, “bad” things had occurred today and yes some people in my world disappointed me while others brought me great comfort and camaraderie, but who am I to judge them, to assign them positions on the battlefield of my heart?
It was in that instant I had an “aha” moment. I’ve understood for a long time that judging others or judging one’s circumstances is self-destructive, but every now and again that I see another reason why this is so. During this revelatory walk I realized that if there is no judgment there is no battlefield in you. You do not need to sort out the world, the world sorts out itself. You need not judge others because others judge themselves.
The soldiers do indeed line themselves up on the battlefield, but when you do not judge, the battlefield remains outside of you. It can no longer tear you apart internally. People place themselves on the battlefield by virtue of their actions, their decisions, and the way they choose to respond to their perception of the world around them. You do not need to do it for them.
On the basis of the battlefield being outside of you, you can maintain your faith in the fundamental goodness and righteousness of humanity, even when the worst of the people around you is coming out. If you are not careful and if you let the battle be waged in your heart, which you will know has happened because judgment will be in the air, you have already lost. You may not have lost the battle, but you will have lost your ability to infuse the situation with unadulterated love and truth.
Judgment impairs your vision by reinforcing rather than dissipating prejudice. Prejudice bypasses discernment and constrains to obstinate opinions. Rigid opinions make you a rigid person and unfortunately, as incredible as love is, love cannot move through a stony and mine-laden heart.
I suppose what I learned during this pleasant evening workout was that I need not allow people who disappoint me or my own failures with respect to others to color my view of humanity by default. These shortcomings can be overcome in ourselves and in others. The sorting out happens naturally and God or kindlier Nature do not need our judgment to get the job done. In fact, judgment does nothing other than perpetuate the widespread conviction that humanity is a lost cause.