As I write this, an anti abortion campaigner is being held in a cell at Melbourne airport, his visa cancelled on the basis of his work which, amongst other things, is claimed to incite people to execute doctors who undertake terminations. This week closer to home a local op-ed piece on faith was written by a woman journalist likening terminations to the recent brutal slaughter of lambs in a paddock, and the women who had them as murderers.
Two events that are both linked by the subject claiming to speak from a place of god, of faith. Claiming to speak with authority on behalf of what god wants and the behaviour and people that s/he will tolerate. Religion or spirituality or faith or whatever you want to describe it as is entirely personal, it has billions of individual interpretations. What concerns me greatly, is when an individual, or a collective individual faith is used to judge and marginalise others - especially when those being judged are often already marginalised.
Cyber bullying, habitual judgement, gossip at work, between friends and of course the most potent and addictive of all - self judgement. Culturally and socially we are addicted to judgement, its an epidemic, and it makes us feel better for a moment before the hit wears off and we are back in our own insecure and not-good-enough selves.
If we take what we think we know about god from the myriad interpretation of the world's religious texts, is it really plausible that a god/deity who advocates unconditional love and acceptance and everyone as one is really applauding killing a doctor, or condemning a woman for making a choice that is right for her at the time under what is invariably painfully difficult circumstances?
Judgement is like a boomerang, as the weapon of our judgement of others from trivial to hate laced is thrown out it circles back, we're only judging ourselves after all. Why does it matter what others are being and doing, why do we take it so personally, so authoratively, so critically? What is it about another that prompts us to believe we know better, or would do better if the choice, whatever it is, in that circumstance, was ours? But as is the way with addiction, we do it constantly, we do it unconsciously, we do it incessantly, and if we don't do it, we don't fit in, because everyone else is doing it, so its easier to keep doing it.
I'm as bad as the next judge, even with a level of attention to changing up my behaviour. As I catch myself in the act of judgement or criticisism I try and shift the thought into empathy, compassion, observation and a place of simply being without reacting to the person who is triggering my inner judgement. A lot of judgey mc judge still flows through, it's a lifetime of practice in reversal.
When so much around us points already to judgement and comparison, it is very challenging when brutal judgment is visited from those claiming to be doing the work of an unassailable figurehead, and that judgement is filtered through communications channels, dutifully reporting and reiterating the messages for the masses. Neem Karoli Baba, the person I look to for spiritual guidance, makes it quite simple: Sub ek which in Hindi means all one. The challenge is to be all one with the sea of judgement and opinion, and like a salt doll, to dissolve in with love.
Dr Polly McGee is one part writer, and many parts assorted thinker, do-er, talker, eater, chef, explorer, yogi, kirtaneer and dog wrangler. She has worked in kitchens, bars and restaurants from frantic to fancy, managed multi-million dollar innovation grants programs, advised hundreds of start-ups on how to refine their business ideas and source funding, and championed causes from a variety of soapboxes, lecterns and stages. She is currently the Strategic Marketing Lead for Global Edtech Startup Prosper Education. Her new book, The Good Hustle, is coming out in February 2018