Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Deciding to Judge

Are the decisions we make about how we want to live our own lives judgments on the ways others live theirs? For example, I don't drink soda. I haven't in 5 years. I gave it up one year for a New Year's resolution and never went back. Does that mean I think everyone who drinks soda is dumb? Or, for example, I don't generally eat meat. I do sometimes, when I feel like it is worth it or when it would be rude not to. Does that mean I think everyone who eats meat is making the wrong decision to have chicken tacos or a burger for lunch? More significantly, I'm Catholic. Does that mean everyone who isn't is just plain wrong about their religion?
With the state of American politics these days, the easy way to answer that question is: Yes, if you make a decision about how to live your life, you are making a judgment on the way other people live theirs. For me though, that's just not true.
Take potato chips. They were another New Year's resolution a few years ago. I haven't eaten them since. Not bagged and not fresh from restaurants who make their own. Why'd I make that decision? Mostly because when I eat potato chips I eat tons of them. They are salty goodness that I just can't resist. I try to have one, then I see the French onion dip and everything goes down hill. Pretty soon, I've consumed the whole bag. But, do I tell people at parties that I don't eat potato chips because they are bad for them and will make them fat? No way. Eat away on those potato chips. Potato chips make people happy. They have tons of delicious flavors (although I don't understand the salt & vinegar choice). It is your right in life to eat potato chips. Do what you like, it is your body.
While that's an inconsequential example, it is really how I feel about all choices people make, superfluous or more significant. I think we've evolved to a place, whether via social media or the general desire to be liked, that we all think others are judging us all the time. For me, I absolutely believe people get to decide to make their own decisions in life, especially when they don't impact me. When they do, I also get a vote in the decision.
Take smoking. I have a significant problem with smoking. But, while I choose not to do it, I don't care if you do....to a point. That point is 1. if you are in my presence because no longer is it just about you, it is about me too and 2. if you do so, and then need my money to pay for your medical costs later in life. In that specific case, I'm not judging you necessarily for smoking, I'm disgruntled by the fact that I may be impacted by it.
I realize whole completely that the smoking example may be equated to excessive sugar consumption or eating lots of meat, so in some ways those are equitable, but generally, there isn't necessarily a judgment on my part. I only have one set of decisions to make and those revolve around the way I want to live my life and the biggest decision I make every day is not to judge anyone else for living the way they want to live theirs.

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