The dictionary too has two contexts to judge the word judgement. One is secular, the other one is religious.
The secular meaning of the word is : the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions, a couple of the synonyms associated being discrimination & discernment. In practical world judgement is necessary to make choices.
The religious definition is: a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment. In stead of feeling sympathetic to another’s suffering one can have a little devilish pleasure without feeling guilty by believing in this definition. Maybe, that is the reason the biblical injunction warns us: judge not, lest you be judged.
All judgments are based on certain facts. But. do the judges get all the facts? Is it possible to get all the facts?
After getting all the facts, the judgement is worked out based on certain premises. Then, how to decide whether the premises are not questionable?
In my earlier post I see you as you are I have narrated how forming prima-facie opinions and labeling people can some times lead to funny situation and sometimes to disastrous consequences.
But, in society, judgments have to be delivered. The guilty needs to be punished. The social structure needs to be preserved. No doubt quite often the innocents get punished while the guilty go scot-free. But again, who am I to judge as to who is really guilty?
The fallacy of wise judgement is illustrated best by this Zen story:
Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
If nations brought in Zen and Budhha into their judicial system all the jailers would be jobless. Nevertheless, the Buddha story about the angry man who spit on his face illustrates the futility of judging people solely based on their past deeds.
Maybe, that is the reason the Nobel committee awards Nobel Peace prize not based on the awardee’s past but, the future. While Mahatma Gandhi, inspired by whom many got the Nobel prize, was not considered for the prize, Obama got it.
Obama was nominated for the prize just nine days into his office and was awarded the prize, to the surprise and shock of many including himself, when he had barely finished nine months in his office.
Then, of course, you always have the excuse in hindsight – the error of judgement, when the irreparable damage has already been done.