Sunday, 8 July 2007

Character Judgment

We live in politically correct times, where one is not supposed to judge another's character. But, the fact is that there is nothing necessarily, ethically or morally wrong with judging someone else.

One can of course judge someone else; based on an irrational believe about their character. This is especially true of individuals, who like to listen to gossip and even accept it as gospel. It is similarly true to note, that individuals will often believe every word a second rate journalist, in a tabloid or glossy magazine writes.

But in principle and if one is being objectively honest, then there is absolutely nothing wrong in judging someone else's character. Indeed, character judgment is often a moral necessity. What parent, in their right mind would employ a babysitter, without judging the character of that potential employee?

So, whether it is morally correct to judge someone else must always rely on context. For example, no moral person would judge another person's character based on their ethnicity, this would not be character judgment but racism.

The point is, that one can either judge another person's character honestly and objectively or they can make a subjective judgment, based on an inner prejudice or misguided belief.

The fact is that in certain situations, it is a moral necessity to judge the character of others, because the simple fact of the matter is, unfortunately, not everyone in the World is a good person and some people do have less than good characters. Fortunately, most people are good by nature. But, it would be foolish to go through life, with a naive belief that character judgment, is something to always be avoided.

When two strangers meet for the first time, they instantly go into 'character analysis mode'. We all do it, when we meet someone new. We look for clues in their body language, in the inflection of their voice, what they actually say, how they look at us, are they open and loud? or shy and nervous? ...etc. We go through this analysis on a subconscious level and tend to get an inner feeling of liking or disliking the person. These are all subtle internal character judgments that go on all the time.

It is important to note, that one should never judge an individual's character merely on first impressions, even one's inner feeling of dislike may turn out to be erroneous. A judgments can be wrong and indeed, to gossip about someone else's character based merely on first impressions, is not only unfair to the person being judged, it is dishonest.

There are many men and women who disliked one another, on first impressions, but at a later date, ended up getting married. The fact is, that most of us, whether we know it or not, have inbuilt prejudices and we often make irrational judgments of others. How often have you seen a person on the television and said: "oh! I can't stand him". We all do it and I'm not innocent either. But my guess is, that if I ever met any of these people, more often than not, I would find they are much nicer than my character judgment has made them out to be, that is simply because, thankfully, most people are.

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