By Dominic Emmanuel
July 27th, 2010
In ancient India which virtually lived in thousands of its villages, most conflicts or disagreements were settled by the village panchyats, through judgment passed by five chosen elders of the village. In many villages this system still works.
Formally though we now have a well-established legal system and most conflicts or cases of crimes are settled through legal procedures in courts. The courts function at different levels and if a person or institution is not satisfied with a particular judgment, one can appeal to the highest court of the land. There are now even international courts. All these courts are guided by a proper legal system of jurisprudence.
There is, however, another form of judgment and judging that is used by those who are neither judges nor assigned the job of arbitration. Neither is this practiced in courts. And because there is no system and process involved, such judgments come in hordes and are passed in double-quick time. And often the person being judged or condemned neither knows about it neither is s/he given a chance to be heard.
This concerns our everyday judgments about our neighbours, colleagues, their actions and quite often their intentions. Of course there are times when what we say about others, especially behind their backs, may be just gossip which is not likely to harm the person we are talking about. But it is also not rare that such loose chitchat, rumours and passing of judgment has ruined reputations and tarnished somebody’s good name. For those of us engage in such rumour mongering it may be just a pastime. But such leisure destroys deep friendships and causes serious misunderstandings in long-standing relationships.
Having observed situations such as these and the habit of judging others’ intentions, Jesus in the Bible admonished his listeners, saying, “Don’t judge others, and you will not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Math. 7: 1-2)”.
“Projection” is a term used by psychologists to explain the behaviour of someone who projects onto someone else an intention of what s/he thinks or may wish to do. Such behaviour is often the result of hiding one’s own inadequacies or unhealthy intentions. It is a defence mechanism to cope with one’s own shortcomings and grey areas. Judging others is nothing more than such projections.
It is important to remember that such spirit of condemnation is also a sign of a personality which is at odds with itself. Apart from psychological reasons for this to happen, another reason is total lack of awareness of one’s own actions. This in turn points to a lack of spiritual contact with the Divine. God has certainly not entrusted us with the task of condemning others. Who are we to sit in judgment over what someone else is doing unless what s/he does harms the society or is done purely to put someone innocent in trouble.
This, of course, does not mean that we should not speak up against the evils of corruption, cheating, lying, exploitation of the poor and the downtrodden. What Jesus is warning us against is to stop judging and criticising others on those very things that we could be found guilty of. Therefore, after advising them not to judge others Jesus concludes the admonition by putting a challenge before them, “Why do you notice the small piece of dust that is in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood that is in your own? Why do you say to your friend, ‘Let me take that piece of dust out of your eye’? Look at yourself first! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You are a hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to get the dust out of your friend’s eye (Math. 7: 3-6)”.
Before we speak about others it may be good to go through the thest which socrates administered to some one who came to complain to him about one of his students. Before he could start, Socrates asked him, “a)Are you sure that what you will say is true? B) Is it something good? And c) Is what you want to tell me going to be useful to me at all?” When the answer to all the three was in negative, Socrates told him, “ If what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it ti me at all?”
— Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of Parliament of Religions, is currently the director of communication of the Delhi Catholic Church. He was awarded the National Communal Harmony Award 2008 by the Government of India. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Asian Age, New Delhi