Is Being Non-Judgmental a Virtue?

I have to admit, I really do not know much about popular culture.  To be honest, I never really knew much about popular culture.  Even in my younger days, by the time I would find out about something and begin to like it, it was already out of style.  One of the advantages to being over forty years old is that by definition, I am no longer “cool,” or whatever term is used for that concept nowadays.  It was always rather useless for me to attempt to be “cool,” but now, there is no reason to even try.  I can gracefully move into the status of an “old lady” and ask the “young-uns” for explanations when I have no idea what they are talking about.  I do hope to avoid getting too grumpy, and I have not put up a “Keep Off the Grass” sign…yet.

Keep Off the Grass SignThat being said, I think I may indulge in a bit of old lady grumpiness for the moment.  Now that I am blogging, I have been reading articles about how to promote one’s blog.  Of course, if I am taking the trouble to write a blog, it is nice to find people who will read what I have to say, so I have been dutifully reading the articles about what one is supposed to do.  Anyways, one of the things one is supposed to do is to go out and about and read and comment on other people’s blogs.

In venturing out into the blogosphere (I am assuming that is still a term that is used), I am encountering some rather strange ideas.  Some of the strangest ideas revolve around being “non-judgmental.”  There was a time that I saw being “non-judgmental” as a virtue, but I do not think that we meant the same thing by that a few decades ago.  To me, being “non-judgmental” meant being understanding about differences in culture and abilities, and as a general rule, being kind and well-mannered to everyone, no matter who they were.  It also meant having a sense of humility, realizing that I had just as many flaws as anyone else, so I should not try to put on airs like I was better than anyone else.

In some of my recent Internet exploration, I ran across some words that I will not repeat that left me really scratching my head.  Most of them were rather insulting words ending in the suffix “-shaming.”  In these discussions, the context was that this shaming was a bad thing and was “judgmental.”  I will admit that I had no idea why these terms were applied to the context they were and no idea what was so “judgmental” about what was being said.  It seemed to me that the post was discussing good manners in the context of Lolita.  For those who do not know, Lolita is a fashion movement starting in Japan, which is Victorian inspired, with a pretty, cute and girly look.  For an explanation of Lolita, here is a really good article on the subject.  This article has been criticized in the blogosphere of being “judgmental” as well, and I do not understand these criticisms in the least.

It seems to me the meaning of being “non-judgmental” has changed so that it is now a fault to have any standards for behavior at all.  I understand that even in ancient times when I was a child, values were being turned topsy-turvy, as I discussed in a previous article, Welcome Back, Sandra Dee.  Still, there was some sense that some things were right and some were wrong.

There also seems to be a lot of unkindness surrounding being “non-judgmental,” in reading the comments I have seen.  Although, I don’t know really.  I have to admit to being a little surprised by the amount of unkindness and rudeness there is on the Internet and blogosphere in general.  It is nice to have a little haven here, and I have been quite grateful that everyone’s comments have been polite and kind.

To me, it seems that maybe being “non-judgmental” in the context that it is used today is not really much of a virtue.  I think that the real virtues are kindness, courtesy, and humility, and that they should be extended to everyone.  On the other hand, one can still have good judgment about one’s own behavior and make decisions regarding who and what one will allow to influence her.

Oh dear, maybe I am putting up the Keep Off the Grass sign.  Well, I have reached the age where I can say these things, I think!

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