I judge others to save myself..
I'll start with this: I have always been an indecisive person. I think about all my choices deeply, whether it be as trivial as what cereal to purchase or as major as should I break off a relationship. Sometimes, I choose not to choose at all, and give the responsibility/burden of choosing to someone else. You would think I hate choosing, as it is time consuming and draining for me. But no, weirdly enough, I love having choices. I think choice is beautiful, despite the psychological torture it puts me through. Maybe that attests to the way American culture has brainwashed me.
But, we must choose and we must discriminate and judge. Choosing, discriminating, and judging are all survival mechanisms you need for this day and age. It is all necessary to our survival, whether that survival be social or economic, we must always choose. This can be choosing a health plan that works for you, choosing a college to go to, choosing whether or not to have children, etc. Life shouldn't be a one size fit all where we aren't given choice. We must make choices for ourselves, it is a matter of judging what works best for you and making that decision.
As for judgement, I think judgement can both keep you safe and harm you. I see judgment as protective barrier when I'm outside. I'll make snap decisions on whether or not I should choose to sit next to someone on the train, or choose whether or not to engage with a stranger. For example, I would rather sit on the train next to a woman or a girl than to sit next to a man. My snap decision stems from judgement. I want to think that making these judgements protects me. However, I acknowledge that at the same time, this judgement can hurt my mindset and worldview, and lead to stereotyping and othering. From the Us vs Them article, othering can hurt minorities and put them in danger as people in power can suggest or even blatantly shun a group of people. The article goes on to provide a solution to othering, through building bridges and connecting people. When we are connected, we don't villainize each other into stereotypes, rather everyone belongs. Judging others makes me feel safe, but perhaps it is that I don't understand others is where my initial fear came from. So.. must we judge? Well, no. I believe we should work towards building bridges and preventing othering, in a way where everyone can belong. When you know about someone or where they come from, you don't need to judge when you already know. Knowing is safe. Knowing and respecting others is true safety.
I won't be blind to say that choice is the greatest thing in the world and oh my god where would I be without it. But I will say the having choice is a gray area between good and evil. In reference to Iyengar's Ted Talk, we, in America, think choice is great, and attribute it to freedom and liberty, and as result happiness. But Iyengar also reveals in her study that the parents who chose to take their infant of life support, were more unhappy than those who weren't given a choice. Ironically, these parents still would have wanted to make the choice rather than have their doctor do it for them. We were conditioned to believe that the grass is greener on America, that we must value the great amount of choices that were given. In Japan, seen with Iyengar's study of children choosing anagrams, the Japanese children performed better when they were told that their mother chose for them. The Japanese make their choices a collective act. It builds their community, the very idea that they trust another enough to make a challenging, potentially, life changing decision. Choice is neither good nor bad, but it is necessary, whether this choice comes from you or someone you respect. There is always a choice to be made in every aspect of your life. Having choices lets you be open to more things. Choice is essential to making society function. If everything was all laid out for us, no choice necessary, we wouldn't be open to other things. I think we'd be close minded, used to our everyday activities that was already set in stone, and wouldn't have exposure to anything else.
It is impossible to live in a world without discrimination and judgement. I think it is naive to think so. In my previous paragraph where I talk about judgement, I talk about how we need to build bridges with each other in order for us to not judge anymore. In theory this sounds great. But in practice, I know that I will go about my life continuing to judge others as a safety mechanisms rather than build bridges. Life isn't that clear cut or fantastical and bad things happen. Humans must judge to save themselves.
My lingering question is this: If mankind stops judging others, would we be safer that way? In other words, if we always gave that stranger the benefit of the doubt, would we be safer not judging them and be more connected as a community? Is judging a necessity to have to protect ourselves or does that very notion stem from stereotypes and othering?