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Editor’s Desk: We all judge and it’s time we accept and learn from our unfair assumptions

Headshot of Kate Campbell
Kate CampbellGeraldton Guardian
There is a Judge Judy in all of us.
Camera IconThere is a Judge Judy in all of us. Credit: Unknown/supplied

Unfair generalisations are the worst.

I dislike them more than drivers who fail to indicate, shoppers who stop and dawdle right in front of the product you want, those who talk during a movie, waiting to get off a plane, and people who FaceTime or talk on speaker in public without headphones.

The biggest unfair generalisation of them all is assuming all members of a group are the same based on the actions of one or a few.

I may be a hypocrite here, but I am going to throw a generalisation out there — one that I reckon is fair.

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We all judge — quite often unfairly.

Even if you think you’re the most open-minded, accepting, progressive person out there, you’re kidding yourself if you think there’s not an inner Judge Judy lurking within you, not too far from the surface. Perhaps you judge the people who aren’t quite as open-minded, accepting and progressive as yourself.

Like to err, to judge is human.

It could be the first impression of someone you meet or the “look” of someone you pass in the street, or judging someone by their appearance, gender, race, age, sexuality. We all have our “opinions” about family, friends, colleagues and strangers.

We can make snap judgments on whether someone smiles too much or not enough, critique their looks and fashion sense, disagree with their taste in food, movies, TV shows, politics, or religion.

We can judge someone by the way they parent, by the fact they don’t have children, what kind of relationship they’re in, the fact they’re not in a relationship, what job they have, how they work, or by their sense or humour, or lack of one.

The list is endless. We all make mistakes, but the key is what we do and what we learn from them.

Hell, most of us are our own harshest judges, and online people’s judgments can escalate to toxic and dangerous levels.

My point is we need to accept that we can all be judgmental creatures (to varying degrees), be aware of it, and try to make a change to better ourselves.

I listened to a guest speaker at a recent function who said when she started working in the youth justice system she was forced to confront her own unconscious bias and keep it in check.

When you do that, you can break down barriers and function better as a person and as a community.

Unfortunately some people, even if they are aware of their own biases and pre-conceived judgments are unwilling to change.

But if we’re going to evolve as individuals and as a society, surely we need to start by looking internally. There’s always room for improvement.

We can start by being honest with ourselves and looking critically in the mirror. Some judgments can prove true, but it’s about being open enough to filter the informed from the ill-informed ones.

Next time you walk by a group of youths, remember they’re not necessarily up to trouble. If someone is begging on the street, it doesn’t mean they are a junkie.

We are all capable of change and even if it’s in small steps, it’s heading in the right direction.

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