On hope, judgement and being judgmental in today’s world

If you want to begin to understand the character of a person you can observe a few things about them.

1) How do they treat people of a higher social class?
2) How do they treat those of a lower social class?
3) Who are the people that they choose to surround themselves with?
4) Who are the people that choose to spend time with that person?

The first two things reveal how a person sees and values themselves and others.  The third thing tends to reveal the values that inform who they wish to be.  The fourth tends to reveal how others see that person’s values.

I often reinforce in my children that you must surround yourself with good people.  If you want to know where you’re headed, look at the company that you choose to keep.  Or to put it another way, look at the company that chooses to keep you…

Now, I realize right now that there are two or three people that are eagerly clamoring to call me a judgmental bastard.  And they’re right, I am.  But this lesson here, the one I’m teaching my children?  It isn’t about being judgmental, it’s about exercising judgement. 

Do you surround yourself with the experiences, people and opportunities that you want to have?  Or do you surround yourself with those things that hurt- hurt your soul, your health and your attitude?  In order to lift up others, to be the person you wish to you be, you need to surround yourself with things that support that.  People, places and experiences that feed and nourish the things that you wish to grow in you.  And, in turn, you do the same for others.  

So, I bring up this particular item today because I also use it as part of larger framework for my children on how to inform their world views.  I’ve had discussions here and there about all sorts of things – music, movies, religion, racism and politics.  They’re smart, inquisitive kids and as a rule, they know that no topic is off limits when they talk to dad.  Over the past several years I’ve had many conversations with them about the nature of much of the leadership in our country, whether it is religious, corporate or political.  My children are pretty skeptical of all things these days because there is a very real disconnect between what is being said and the actions and results of those doing the talking.  This is true across all mediums and it affects them personally.  It’s confusing, frustrating and oftentimes, very daunting when the world expects so much of you before you’re even an adult(whatever that is).

So I tell them – it’s your responsibility to look at all those people, religions, leaders, corporations, etc-  whatever they are, and observe their character.  If it matches what you are seeking, then support it.  If it doesn’t, then either stand up and change it, seek out something different, or be the thing that you are seeking for others.

Naturally it is my hope that they seek out things I would deem positive, and that they in turn would be positive things for others.  That is my hope, as I am only a parent.   But, I would like to believe that by having these discussions, by giving my children the tools they need to discern and exercise judgement, that I am at least building them a framework that can move them in that direction.  

I hope.

By Dan Granot

I chose the Shorter Whitman because of his work, "Song of Myself" and because of my self-deprecating sense of humor. I am under no illusion that I can write successful essays or poetry, but I have been known to write them anyway.

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