Letter to the editor: Unfounded judgment can be destructive

Ivo Soljan and English professor

Editor’s note: This letter to the editor is in response to a column by Kelly Smith titled “Combating judgment with relationship-building,” which was published in the Monday, Oct. 3 issue of the Lanthorn.

I am writing, in order to congratulate, from the depth of my heart, our young colleague, Kelly Smith, who wrote a profoundly wise, benevolent and exemplary analytical column.

Smith, with his signature smile, on the accompanying photo, writes, persuasively and with disarming sincerity, about the grave dangers of judging, and even condemning, people before we even meet them and come to know them. Of course, this is an old truism (“Don’t judge, lest you be judged”), but, sadly, like with so many situations in our busy lives and with our lazy memory, we must be constantly reminded of the most ordinary things. As Andre Gide, the famous French writer and moralist, puts it memorably: “Everything has been already said, but, as nobody listens, it must be repeated again and again.”

In his column, Kelly observes the grave dangers of the unfounded criticism, gossip and even defamation from his own life perspective. He honestly and sincerely accuses himself of having committed the “sin” of snap judgments, in several situations. However, he immediately offers a happy solution: getting to know the person you criticize and judge arbitrarily.

Sometimes it is not very easy, especially when the damage has been already done and the only way to repair or correct it is to make a sincere effort to acquaint yourself well with the victim of the snap judgment and to apologize for it. Even our own Lanthorn is known to have caused such problematic situations, during its relatively long history. And it has not always reacted to such unfortunate and damaging slips of judgment adequately.

Sometimes the editorial board members are too busy with thousands of other “very urgent and important” issues and thus they leave some, even burning, problems unsolved. But, it is to be hoped that these are all teachable moments, which will eventually make us better people, less judgmental and more prudent and open to truth.

Smith continues his analysis by offering us a number of different case studies from his own life, and concludes with clear enthusiasm, optimism and loads of good will, primarily humility, of which we are so powerfully reminded. With more humility and less unnecessary testiness or rotten pride, we would certainly live a much more peaceful and satisfying life.