If your browser doesn't automatically take you to The Cody Blog within a few seconds, please click here.
The Cody Blog: Judging People's Actions and Beliefs

Friday, March 04, 2005

Judging People's Actions and Beliefs

I'm going to take that racism post a step further and delineate an underlying theme in that write up. That is, there's absolutely nothing wrong -- and in fact, everything right -- with judging someone's actions...or beliefs for that matter.

We can, and should, judge people for things they have control over. We can't, and shouldn't, just people for things they have no control over.

Think about it: if someone chooses to carry a gun down the street -- I'm going to judge them as a suspicious character. Someone uses a payphone at the W -- sure, perhaps they're from out of the country and don't want to pay roaming charges...but there's nothing wrong with wondering if they're up to something no good, given that most crime communication is done over payphones.

Likewise, we judge a person's belief system eight days of the week. I'm not a religious man, and I do judge people who are overly zealous about their religion. And you might judge me for not being religious. Nothing wrong with that, though I think I might surprise you if you asked me about my belief system.

In fact, in a second derivative kind of way -- I pass judgment on people who actually believe and/or act racist. Racists are idiots -- and I base that statement on a judgment of such people's beliefs and acts.

On the other hand, someone's born black, Arab, white, Israeli, whatever-- you can't try to pigeonhole an individual on such a born-with characteristic.

Fight your mind to free your mind.


Blogger JoeC said...


First, congratulations on your blog. I have admired your work on realmoney.com for some time.

Second, I think these posts confuse "judgment" with "prejudice". If I understand your position, and I believe I do, it is that it is OK to judge someone based on behavior but not to act prejudicially based on race, appearance and/or creed. So, as you infer, it is OK to judge, but not to "pre-judge". I think using these words makes your concept more transparent to the reader.

Thus, in your hotel example, while it is acceptable to consider someone talking on a payphone in an upscale establishment to be engaging in marginally suspicious behavior, to focus on the person's racial background as a principal cause of such suspicion is inherently prejudicial and is unacceptable. Frankly, I think this is well-covered terrain.

More broadly, I would think the following hypothetical is even more helpful (please bear with me). Let's say there is a species of bird called the "green bird". Let's say another species called the "blue bird" in the opinion (let's say the "instinct") of the green bird has a 1% chance of attacking the green bird each time the two come into contact. We would expect the green bird to ALWAYS be suspicious of the blue bird, even though only a very small percentage of confrontations have meaningful risk. But, as you know, we are not birds. We as a species are trying to evolve into a society where we can coexist with each other and with our environment (a whole other topic there). So we try to elevate our interactions beyond that seen between predators and prey. But like evolution of the body, evolution of the mind takes much time. As a species, I believe we have made much progress, but there is of course much more work to be done. Hopefully we will continue to better ourselves, but there will be more obstacles, and hopefully we all can learn from them.

3/04/2005 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger The Unknown Broker said...

"Fight your mind to free your mind."

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery

None but ourselves can free our minds."
-- Bob Marley "Redemption Song

3/07/2005 09:22:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home