Judgment or Discernment?

Mar 14

Can we make a distinction between judgment and discernment?

Judgment, to me, means pointing a finger of blame, seeing myself as superior, separating myself from another. Discernment, on the other hand, means simply noticing – noticing how others are acting, how they are speaking, how they are relating, and simultaneously noticing my own thoughts and emotions. Then, I can decide how I am going to act (or not) in a particular situation.

There is always a dynamic going on, a dance of consciousness if you will, both within myself and between me and another. I absolutely need to pay attention to that dance so that I can dance as well as possible. If I dance well, I become a co-creator with my Maker. Together, we create a peaceful, powerful, prosperous planet.

Have I experienced rage? Absolutely! Have I experienced terror? Absolutely! But having experienced these emotions, what am I going to do with them?

I truly cannot know the torture another person has experienced. Who am I to judge him? However, it is vital that I notice how his conduct affects me so that I take appropriate action to protect myself and the things I value.

I recently returned to the States after three years in Honduras and three-and-a-half years in Panama. It is interesting to discern some cultural differences. These are, of course, generalizations.

In the States, those who act out their pain with violence are generally behind bars. Those who move out of dysfunctional relationships, instead of reacting with violence, live relatively free and harmonious lives. This does not mean their lives are unchallenging.

In all the Central and South American countries with which I am familiar, there are few effective governmental, legal, or police systems in place to dissuade people from acting out their pain with violence. Nor are there educational systems in place to give children the skills they need to live productive, non-violent lives. As a result, pain acted out with violence frequently rules. There is little trust and little security. The people who live behind bars and high walls in these societies are the people who redirect their pain to productive, non-violent activities, not the ones who act out their pain with violence.

What have I done with my own rage and terror? Stopped, looked at it, briefly considered acting out on it, and then, with a combination of grief, anguish and relief, turned away and followed a new, more productive path.

One Response to “Judgment or Discernment?”

  1. Ann Elliott (http://www.berkanacompany.com) says:

    As always, Janet, you have provoked your reader to think. In my experience, the more I am aware of my reaction to a circumstance, the more power I have to respond in a way that is useful to me. I agree there is a difference between discernment and judgment.

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