Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why are people so judgmental?

"Bigotry and judgment are the height of insecurity." - Jasmine Guy (via BrainyQuote)

In a recent post to a Facebook page, a dual image depicting two girls claimed that one was more beautiful than the other on the basis of clothing. Aside from the possibility of their being the same girl (they looked similar), this neither makes sense nor is fair to the girls depicted.

The girl on the right's shirt was slightly pulled up, and I witnessed a slew of snide remarks about "wardrobe choices" and "sluttiness." Nor were these reserved for the one, as the left girl's "wholesomeness" was attacked on the grounds that her shorts were too, well, short. (Seriously?)

Can someone inform me of how attire could be harmful simply by leaving less to one's imagination? I intend to skewer the notion of anatomical "modesty" in later posts, but suffice it for now to say that dressing less (or none) does not inherently harm anyone. Anyone who claims to feel sickened by the image of another person's body (provided it's not covered in pus-filled scabs) has only his, her, or their own predispositions to blame. I wholeheartedly agree with the Rede followed by Wicca: "As it harm none, do as you will." What could be simpler? (This is my one umbrella principle.)

However, the elephant of body-shaming is in another room. Down the hall, I'd say, behind the opaque door installed to hide the room's contents. Its trumpet is muffled by the door. Or the media.

Anyhow, the pachyderm in this chamber goes by a broader title: judgment. So why do people care about things that have no negative impact on them? It's an excellent question, and I can only theorize for now. At the local grocer, I often see poorly-edited images of celebrities on the covers of gossip magazines with headlines such as "Rihanna's Nightmare" and "Will & Kate: Secrets of Their Royal Romance." While I usually do not deign to glance twice at these periodicals, I will here consider them because they feed into my wonderment at human nature. Why people care what famous individuals do puzzles me, and the amount of time people devote to gossip is downright baffling.

According to John Cleese, certain people feel better about themselves if the negative spotlight is pointed at someone else, which we see a great deal of in political straw-man arguments. If someone else's flaw is exposed, a less dignified person might be relieved at the shifted burden of shame or embarrassment. Perhaps this is why our lack of morale is blamed on the LGBT+ community, and economical crises are cited as being done by Jews.

I briefly studied the Japanese self-defense style known as Ninjutsu, and I plan on continuing my shinobi education soon. One thing I observed from my sensei and fellow students was the philosophy of defense without overly aggressive retaliation; in other words, instead of absorbing and brutally countering attacks, a shinobi (ninja) should be able to redirect a blow and restrain his, her, or their assailant. While I admire and agree with this kind of physical defense, I think conversational disputes should be handled differently. I don't suggest tactless spilling of heated emotion. Instead, an issue ought to be civilly and directly addressed, striking at the root rather than the branches (to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau). Redirection in ethics leads away from any hope of actual resolution.

So why do people judge? Some are bored, some are unhappy, some were simply brought up in a privileged and snobbish environment, and many simply wish to avoid their own guilt. But ultimately, I would posit that these factors often combine with idiotic societal norms to culminate in a greater lack of empathy for others.


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