Judgment

I need to distinguish judgment as presented in this article, from decision making. Judgment as presented here is the categorization of things into 2 halves – good or bad. Decision making on the other hand, can include or exclude judgment.

In other words, you can make decisions in any circumstance, with or without labeling the circumstance good or bad.

To understand this, let us use an interesting story from the Bible. 

“Then the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it. He told him, “You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day.” – Genesis 2:15 – 17 (Good News Translation).

Whenever I read this text in the Bible, I am intrigued by the narrative of manipulation, disobedience, blame game, consequences (curses), birth, sacrifices, murder and mankind that follows.

Before eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were making decisions, including the decision to eat the fruit. Their decision making only became hinged on the judgment of what is good or bad, after eating the fruit.

With judgment of good and bad, they became less and not more like God, because they became subject to the same judgment they gave.

“Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.” – Matthew 7:1 – 2 (Good News Translation).

If we learn to see things as they are, without the coloration of good or bad, and act on what is, without the desire to make good better or bad worse, we are free.

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” – Proverbs 4:23 (Good News Translation).

3 personal experiences:

Every single time I have been transferred to a new job, people have called to share their judgment on why the move is good or bad. They have also tried to ensure I am judging the situation in alignment with their judgment of good or bad. Every single time I have caved in to judge, even before experiencing what is, my experiences ultimately became a reflection of my judgment – good or bad.

A question I love to read answers to – What failure in the past was actually a seed of future success? This question is presented in various ways, but it strikes at the core of the fallibility of judgment. In our lives, we can point to a past failure that was the magnet for all future success. If we had been more present and paid attention, there would have been no need to judge the circumstance as a failure in the first place. What is, is.

In my engagements with individuals and groups, I have derived more value when my mind was not preoccupied with judging words, tone, or movement. These things are important, but when they reinforce judgment of good or bad, they become limiting. 

I had a boss that listens better, if he is allowed to draw while listening. Now, a lot of business schools would tell him that such a behavior is bad. He should make eye contact, have an open posture, ask clarifying questions, summarize for understanding. Well, luckily, he didn’t go to business school, he keeps drawing, and each line he draws is a mental note on what is important to him. His actions consistently demonstrated that he listened. I even tried out drawing at one point, to see if I could replicate his genius. It didn’t work for me. I have found what works for me. And it is neither good nor bad, it just works for me, for now.

I am not asking you to remove the prisms through which you view what is, that will be me judging you on how you judge the world. I am asking you to pay attention to why you judge what is and try a new approach – see what is for what it is. It just is.

There is a time for every human and a human for every time. The times are neither good nor bad, it is our judgment that makes it either.


– Osasu Oviawe

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