Thoughts on Judgment
Judgment – Universal, Social, Personal. It has occurred to me that even viewing judgment in this way is a product of our current paradigm – our notions that universal concepts of good and evil exist and how they manifest in the social structure and in us personally. I have never found the existence of evil to be true, but the concept of good is then in question also. Perhaps it is better understood as love and fear with fear being the negation of love, not its opposite. Therefore there is just love and the fear of not having love – separation. But can it be that simple? Does that really explain anything, or is it just changing the words?
We live by drawing lines between us because the fear of scarcity is real. The belief that I may not have enough and that to secure for me and mine, I might have to take yours. But hey, it’s a matter of survival. However, we can’t so easily take from our own. I believe humans are by nature selfish. I also believe that humans operate to do good. Good is a funny word here. I don’t mean any kind of universal good. But rather, good as defined by the individual. Not necessarily a conscious definition either, in fact rarely so. So I will act in my own self interest – I will do what is good for me. Given that selfishness in my opinion is just our nature, the real question is how we define self. And that is also not a universal but an individual definition and one that can change, does change, throughout life, sometimes day to day or even moment to moment. So if I operate under the definition that self is just this body, my ego, then when I seek good this is all I am concerned with. If my definition extends out to my family even just a bit, then likewise when I do good it is to their benefit as well. On the far end of that spectrum, I think when someone is enlightened to the concept of oneness, they are still selfish, but their definition of self is the whole universe, so when they seek good for self, they are seeking good for the universe.
Under that premise, and going back to survival, to take yours I have to already see you as different than me. I am unable to knowingly produce self harm, goes against my selfish pursuit of good, so I need a definition of self that does not include you. I will use anything to separate us, again I think it is a matter of survival, or rather perceived survival. Religion, skin color, language, sexual orientation, etc. It also means that the more I see you like me, the more I can accept you, the more good I believe you will do for me as you exist somewhere within the parameters of how I define self. We grow our families, pick our friends, make our alliances, and choose our leaders based on this.
I think this is how we are operating. Often resorting to shallow definitions of self and existing in a paradigm built upon us vs. them, with the belief that resources are limited while we constantly waste the resources we have, and cling to a sense of security that is built on our ability to acquire more.
I also wholeheartedly see this changing.
But in here is also good and evil as we see it or don’t see it. The good is a purely individual notion. Good is whatever I deem as beneficial to me, to self, based on however I am choosing to define self. Bad is just what does harm to my concept of self.
But society is made up of people, of relationships and in the seeking of order, a form of governance is needed. At its most basic, rudimentary laws are created as a form of agreed upon harm reduction – thou shall not. Keep your personal definition of good, seek it, as long as it does not harm others. Seems fair. This creates a value system which the individual understands is being imposed upon its own value system. But as a collective the value system seems to come from a greater source, greater than the individual, even greater than the collective. It is ascribed as a universal system which governs all so that instead of the individuals creating a system of good and bad collectively the system of good and bad is seen as universal law. This requires an entity who will deem it so, a grand judge. One who can reward the good and punish the bad, while the individual escapes the responsibility of their own actions and has their own value system eroded as a means to establish order.
By this understanding it is not possible for an individual to commit an evil act, it is only our judgment that makes it so. The person is doing good in accordance with their definition of self. If the act seemingly does harm to another it is bad for that other. The other is the victim. Evil is when the judgment of the action is deemed to produce more harm than good in accordance with the collective value system – when we decide that the quest of one to do good for self violates the the quest for good in another and thus causes them, the victim harm. In some ways this is a perfectly reasonable approach for any group of humans.
The problem with this is that as we believe in the universal good and evil, establishing the binary system which us vs. them is based upon, we lose the understanding of the expanding definition of self. We removed the acknowledgement of our own personal definitions and thus the responsibility that we have for our own values. And the motivation to define self as something broader than our ego, bigger than just our family, to build the ropes that connect us so that when we act selfishly we can act for the betterment of all. We lose site of the perpetrator and seek to only distance ourselves from their actions, thus severing our own broader self and ignoring the commonality of our motivation – to do good. Also, the individual can never fully submit their own value system for the collective. Critical thinking – “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.” This is the basis of the individual value system. How we ourselves analyze and judge. The value system of a society especially when coming from a god or at least philosophized as a coming from a universal, has left the individuals lacking in the skills to determine their own value system – critical thinking. Our laws have become our crutch. In practical terms, one may say murder is wrong, even believe it, and understand that it comes with judgment resulting in punishment. Yet, without a strong personal value system in place, under the right circumstances, if murder falls under the idea of good for self, the value system will break because the individual never developed that value for themselves. Not too mention that our collective value system finds reasons to break its own rules all of the time. So without critical thinking to determine our own value system, the concept of murder being wrong is shaky at best. And that critical thinking is an important piece in the expansion of the definition of self. The more we can objectively analyze the motivations of another, the more we can understand them. This understanding builds on our commonalities, making separation harder, fighting against that “survival instinct” seeking the differences, the justification to treat you as less than me. Thus the definition of self is expanded and connections to each other deepen.