Throughout early adulthood (well okay, until very recently), I dubbed myself as a non judgemental individual. Whenever conflicting ideas arise, I usually observe and come to my own conclusions silently. Rarely do I speak up unless requested and I often begin my argument with 'Well, for me-'. I was indeed reserved to the idea of judgementality because I had assumed that it included an air of 'knowing that we are better than other people.'
One day, an intelligent (former student) friend of mine asked, 'Don't we need to be judgemental to know who we are?'. I pondered.
And true to my nature, I began reading and reading to find an answer. And as it turns out, he was right.
The definition of 'judgemental' or 'judgement' is 'the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.' (Merriam-Webster)
I began thinking, if judgement is a process within which we evaluate conditions based on comparisons, then it is mandatory to judge (compare) in order to choose. Without comparing the pros and cons of a given situation, we would not be able to concur anything - thus, never making an informed decision.
Justru, judgementality is needed to be able to know where we position ourselves in this world. A framework we use to guide ourselves in taking consequential steps to move further in life.
Indeed, judgement is not a choice. It's a prerequisite to knowing who we are.
And in fact, my presumed idea of judgement, is actually by definition 'arrogance', which refers to 'an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.' (Merriam-Webster)
Then it hit me.
By definition, you can judge without arrogance. The aspect that bothered me was not the observation, comparison, and furthermore formulation of opinion. But the arrogance of thinking that our choices are better than others'. When in fact, they are mutually exclusive.
Rereading my writing, my process of developing thought so to speak, I realise that it is in fact judgement. The analysis in my thesis, my papers, my lectures: they are all forms of judgement. My choice to become a mother, a wife, a student, a lecturer, is a result of judgement towards the opposing conditions (i.e. not having children, not getting married, not choosing the academic field). The list goes on to all the decisions I have ever made in my life.
Then the point is not not judging, but not being arrogant. If we made consequential choices, we would not seek external validation - because the choices were internally validated. We would not need to feel superior to those who disconfirm our decisions. Because decision-making is a process of gathering data and finding a solution, based on observation, that best suits our conditions.
It's true then, the joke that said: 'Non judgemental people are judgemental towards judgementality.'
Because judging is inevitable. But arrogance is.