My latest pet peeve is (was) texting and driving. Nobody likes it, of course, but for some reason I was taking it to the next level. I would walk around town yelling at cars. “Fucking idiot is going to kill someone,” I would say with disdain and self-righteousness. It was taking up way too much head space. Aristotle says the only life worth living is to contemplate virtue daily. I agree. So finally one day I stopped myself and asked the wonderful and enlightening question why. Why was I doing this? Why was I pissed off about texting and driving, among all things? Well, turns out I was being the typical, self-righteous, judgmental asshole that we all are.
And here’s how it works. First, you make a change in your life that separates you from a certain group of people. For me, this was drivers and people with smart phones. Because I am fortunate enough to live close to work–partly a choice, partly luck–I rarely have to drive. And I don’t have a smart phone (even though I want one, which is relevant here). Next, you witness those people doing something stupid, like texting and driving. Then, you judge the shit out of them and make a big deal of it, a much bigger deal than it warrants. And there is nobody around to call you out, because the people around you are likely not part of the group you are hating.
Everyone does this. This is simply how judgement works all the time. The further away you are from the person or group of people, the more you will hate them. The holocaust worked through a long chain of command system. Skin color; nationality; life style; status. The old man who can’t get it up will judge sexual immorality. The ugly woman will judge the superficiality of society; the person who starts working out slowly finds himself judging fat people. And so on with thousands of possibilities to become an asshole.
So back to the amazingly simple and amazingly powerful words of Christ: “judge ye not.” That means, in plain English: do not judge. What a wonderful way to live. So, of course texting and driving is stupid. But I understand, and it’s all good. And if I had a smart phone and was driving, hell yes I would be tempted–I would be on the other side of the window with some asshole yelling at me.