One statement that I intentionally try to comment or correct when used is the above titled, “Please don’t judge me” or simply “Don’t judge.” Yes, being judgmental is bad but these phrases have been thrown around so much that the pointed meaning has been lost and what is left is the ineffective and somewhat unhelpful dulled tool that protects us from pain and hurt. In other words, we use these phrases not in a manner that constructively points out inappropriate, untimely criticism, but primarily to protect ourselves from transparency that will lead to pain and hurt because in our current generation’s culture, pain (not even suffering because they are two different things) is almost labeled an evil and must be avoided at all costs. We forget that pain can be a good thing. Trueman comments in his article “Is Hurt Mail the New Hate Mail“:
pain, as an abstract concept, is not in itself evil or a sin. I run marathons: the training is painful, not to mention the races; but the personal reward at the end is worth it and unattainable without the pain; my dentist regularly causes me a certain degree of pain in order to save me from worse to come; and anyone who has endured cancer treatment can testify to the salubrious effects of physical discomfort. Nor is such good pain just physical: I hated leaving the security of the parental home, but I had to do it if I was to grow up; I disliked having my essays torn apart by my college tutor but it was the only way to improve my intellectual and literary skills; and parenting teenagers can be heart wrenching, but it has to be done. Pain in itself is not bad; rather, it is the cause or the purpose of the pain that provides the good or the evil involved.
In this rather biting article, cringing while reading Trueman’s critique of the soft culture that is ours, the very fact that I cringed seems to prove him right. His distinctions are too separated (aesthetic vs moral; method vs truth), but nevertheless, he does have an enlightening point. Our generation consists of people who are wusses hiding behind the veil of postmodernism. We are so caught up in defending our right to not be offended and the right to feel good that we don’t realize we are all just turning into spoiled brats lacking proper discipline and direction. Our narcissistic culture has truly idolized, as Trueman comments, “my experience, my feelings, my pain.” This culture has become the epitome of the “me-culture” and there is no room for “you” or even “we” in our conversations and interactions. Isn’t it true though that deep down in all of us we are tired of the fluffy relationships and desire truthful correction from our friends when necessary?
But I am reminded that before I judge, I must realize that I am just as soft, just as spoiled. And when I judge, I must do so for the purpose of serving the other, or else it will only be a different manifestation of the narcissistic “me” culture. Let us not say “Please don’t judge me.” Instead, let us not be afraid to say “Please judge, in order that I can be of better service to others.”