Do you feel threatened?

Well, you should.

 

Actually, you shouldn’t. Unless….

Truly I don’t consider myself a judgmental person. But at some point we have to consider the consequences of our actions. We are not only responsible for our wrong doings, but for how those wrongs are visited upon others. My general rule is that, if a person is kind to me and treats me with respect, they are welcome as my friend, free of judgment. But all things being unequal, there are some things I can’t look past. I think it comes down to our threshold of threat. I’m perfectly happy to let others believe in whatever faith they decide is best for them, whether that’s Southern Baptist, or Catholic or Hindu or Muslim. I don’t care. But many do. And why? They must find other ideologies threatening.

Take it to another extreme. At what point does passing judgment become necessary? Let’s say I have an uncle who has an unhealthy interest in little boys. I may find him sweet and funny. But I’m not likely to have him babysit my kids. Is that being judgmental? Or is that being responsible?

We live in a society now where we claim a right to do and be and say and think and act in whatever way we choose. But not all choices are worthy ones. In fact, I find the whole philosophy disturbing. Most people drink, many use drugs of one kind or another. And yet the number of lives, of families, of relationships it ruins is really tragic. It’s staggering. I grew up around it and I have little patience with overindulgence now. In fact I take great pains to avoid having to be anywhere near those who I have known to drink too much. It’s not a judgment. It’s a safety issue.

I intensely dislike smoking, too. What business is it of mine if people smoke, wherever, whenever they please? It’s their bodies, their right to do what they want with them. But the thing is, I suffer from a fairly common lung ailment. It’s easy to dismiss the fact that secondhand smoke MIGHT cause lung cancer at some future point in my life. Why should the smoker sitting next to me be concerned with that? The fact of the matter is, that within an hour, maybe two hours, perhaps ten minutes (sometimes immediately), I’ll likely have an asthma attack. On the off chance you are unfamiliar with what an asthma attack feels like, go get a coffee straw, stick it in your mouth and try to breathe through it. How long can you keep it up before you turn blue and pass out? Lucky you. You can take the straw out. People die from asthma. Yes, there are drugs we take to keep ourselves alive, but I don’t always remember them. I have no problems inhaling fresh air, after all. And these drugs come with their own risks, their long term side effects. Why should my life be endangered because of someone’s ‘right’ to indulge.

Not dissimilarly, I am extremely averse to suffering the rants and irrational anger and resentment that spews from the mouths of those who habitually drink too much. I hate it. I find it repulsive, embarrassing (for them), abusive, resentment building, relationship destroying and just plain stupid. And I won’t put up with it. Love me, love my alcoholism? I don’t think so.

So it comes down to our threat threshold. It seems I’m threatened by suffocation, by verbal, emotional, physical violence to myself or my children.  Am I judgmental? Perhaps, in certain instances, I need to be.

Our society is a very selfish one. Perhaps it’s why I immerse myself so much in history. It’s always been a problem to some degree, the temptation to fulfill our desires first, before we  take consideration of those whom we might harm. And sometimes it’s impossible to foresee the outcome. As a hypothetical, it’s easy to dismiss. But I have to wonder if that’s not why the world is what it is today. From the highest to the lowest, we’re all out to serve ourselves. I yearn for a kinder humanity. I want to be able to trust my fellow men, to trust my leaders, to feel safe. Do our individual actions make a difference? In the perspective of a collective whole, they must. Think about it. What are our future leaders doing right now? And will it matter to you when they are President, or Prime Minister? It should. And if it doesn’t, it will.

Comments Closed

9 Responses to “Do you feel threatened?”

  • Great points, Val–I think that many people, in their fervor to assert what’s best for them and preferable to them, often forget to consider others’ needs. Such a competitive and assertive society we live in–I like to imagine we’d all be happier if we put one another first instead of demanding what we prefer for ourselves. You want to smoke? Well, fine–but consider who else is impacted when choosing where to indulge. Have really specific food allergies/ethica food choices? Understandable–but consider that others may not be able to accomodate your food needs before demanding that they be addressed. If people would stop with “what’s best for meeee” and think about their impact on others…how nice that would be :) Thanks for being an idealist along with me, Val :)

    • VRChristensen:

      Hey, Rowenna.
      Yes, I’m an idealist. Unfortunately I’ve become a bit cynical of late. I’m hoping it’s a phase and that it will pass. I wish people could see what they do when they are so single minded. Unfortunately it’s a problem on both ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, you have those who simply only care for themselves and no one else. They swear in public, play their loud, offensive music, drive like maniacs, eat, spend, the list goes on, without thinking of anything but their own needs. On the other hand, you have those who mean well, those who are overzealously religious, or political, who judge and condemn and belittle without thinking that their methods will only offend. Who ever has been converted to any cause because of hatred or malice or blind contempt? No one. It’s a tough line to walk. I’m conscious that I tend to be judgmental toward those I deem to be judgmental. It’s a catch 22, really. I just try to go through life now being as kind as I can…but very, very cautious.

  • RP:

    I guess I’m guilty then – to a degree. I used to smoke and made a point of doing so when non-smokers complained (oh yeah, I did that) I still drink, but not to excess to often, but I know people who do, and yes, I hate it. I had to sit with my wife the other day (again) while she vomited because she was so drunk. She drinks every day. I don’t, just a few glasses of wine at weekend usually, or more at a party. I haven’t been ill through drink since I was 21. As for being judgmental in other areas, well, you know my veiws on certain beliefs in others Val, though I’m learning to be more tolerant (which is easy when the person is like you and tolerates my view) but many do not, and consider me poorly as a result.

    But, I guess I’d say, each to their own, so long as that does no harm to another, and by harm I don’t mean harming their sensibilities, I mean actual harm. Whatever else may be true, we come this way just once, and every single one of us has a unique experience, many not very pleasant sad to say. So I am learning to be less judgmental, but when others start preaching to me… well, I revert to type and give as good as I get. So I’m still a work in progress.

    • VRChristensen:

      It might have been wiser for me not to post it. It truly was just a rant. But it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. The point about sensibilities is key. And how do you make that determination. For instance, there are certain prejudices I deal with every day living where I do. It’s really hard to get people to see that they are wrong. But then there are things that are generally accepted that I don’t agree with. And yet I don’t dislike that person. As long as their actions don’t hurt me, as you said. I’ll probably have to delete this post. It is a bit ranty. Not quite my calm, smooth self. My feelings about alcohol run really deep. I grew up with it, as I said. My brother just died as a result of it. Other members of my family struggle with it, and they don’t see how much they hurt the people around them. I worry so much and that hurts. But then when they become abusive, that hurts too. And what do you do when you are accused of being judgmental simply because you’re concerned? I’ve just decided to call it how I see it and not worry what people think. So long as I try to be a compassionate person, I don’t think I have anything to worry about. We’ll see.

      • RP:

        Tough call that VR… I can’t answer that for you, no one can. You know I love you for your compassion, and your passion, your humanity… wish I had something to offer you here, but I don’t, sorry. x

  • Garalt Canton:

    I see no problem with these points at all. I was raised to be considerate of the needs of others, especially my seniors.

    In the so-called decadent 20s and 30s – The greatest social sin was to be a bore.

    Can we go back there please?

    • VRChristensen:

      Gary! I’m so happy to see you here!

      I spent the weekend thinking about it, but decided to leave it. I’m not ashamed of what I said, it’s just that I know I could have put it better. The ‘Criticism’ blog was just as much a rant, I think I just did a better job of saying it. I think I’m typically pretty good at stating my opinions without offending. And there are things I don’t understand but want to, and I don’t mind being corrected. Debating is a learning opportunity. At the same time, I do tend to have very strong opinions. None of which are set in stone. I think the difference is I’m teachable. And I care more for the people with whom I interact than with any policies or theologies. Personally, I’d like to go back to the teens, before the war broke out, with all the gentility and good manners but without the judgmentalism and blind adherence to useless dogma and social cannon. That, to me, would be my ideal society.

  • Rita:

    My opinion is that we live in a society that doesn’t know how to deal with criticism. As a result there is this attitude of “if we don’t agree, we can’t be friends.” I despise having to carefully weigh what I say because I might offend x,y, or z person. There is tactful, and there is giving up all voice.

    Protecting your child from a person that you feel could hurt them is not judgemental. Children need their parents to be their advocate. If I left my child with a person who I suspected would hurt them and they did indeed get hurt I feel I should be guilty of reckless endangerment.

    • VRChristensen:

      I do constantly watch my words around people. I’m aware that my beliefs are different from a lot of people’s. I’m also aware that sometimes the difference is only in nomenclature, so I try to have an open mind and to be prepared to state my idea in a number of different ways. I suppose I consider myself conservative, but moderate. I have problems, serious ones, with both sides. I find myself caught in the middle of many issues. And it’s not always possible to consider the consequences, especially when they’re only evident long term.

      I used the example of the pedophilic uncle as a very extreme one, simply to make my point. But I have had an experience very similar to that, where I knew something about a family member that no one else did, and in order to protect myself, I kept a wide birth. Because I’m basically the only religious person in my family, I got a lot of slack for that. I was being judgmental, as if somehow, the two things were related. They weren’t. In fact I suspect my need for religion is a need for protection in a way. But it provides extreme liberals and the self-serving to toss it about as if it’s a label that was simply meant to stick by definition. It’s easy, I suppose. Then they don’t need to think, and they don’t need to get to know me. I sound defensive. I guess I’m still ranting. Lol.

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