The Difference Between Opinions & Judgments

What is the difference between an opinion and a judgement?

According to the dictionary, not much.

In fact, the Google results suggest that the two terms are synonymous.

However, I disagree.

I believe there is a subtle difference which has great significance.

In response to the current political climate, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what makes opinions different than judgements.

Opinions Are Personal

Opinions seek to govern our own lives in whatever arbitrary ways we prefer things

The way I see things, an opinion is something personal.

Opinions seek to govern our own lives in whatever arbitrary ways we prefer things.

For example, I don’t like kids.

Since I don’t care for children, I choose not to have any of them.

Makes sense, right?

I picked this particular opinion of mine for a reason.

Recently, I discovered a private Facebook group called “Childfree Chicks Confidential” and thought I might fit in, so I made a request to join.

It’s not often I meet anyone in person who has never had any kids of their own, so I thought the idea of joining a fairly large online community (group has over 6,000 members) sounded pretty cool.

And at first, it kind of was.

I posted a couple of memes I created which hadn’t been very popular on my own Facebook timeline, like this one:

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I figured a joke like this one would be welcome in a group of other women who had decided not to have kids.

It was not only welcome, it ended up getting hundreds of likes and the volume of comments it received was almost too high for me to keep up with.

Needless to say, I had to turn off notifications for it after several hours. For the sake of sanity, that is.

When Opinions Turn Into Bashing

The more time I spent in this group, the more I started to notice how the overwhelming majority of women there used terms like “crotch goblins” and “breeders” to refer to kids and the people who have them.

Now…I don’t have a problem with making jokes like that.

If they are actually jokes.

I don’t understand people who get offended by jokes. The whole point of a joke is that it’s not a serious statement.

That’s why a joke can use racism, stereotypes, sexism or anything else that would otherwise be offensive.

Most of my jokes would make me upset if they were said seriously.

But the more posts I read in this group, the clearer it became that these women were not joking.

I began to sense their hostility towards anyone and everyone with children after a while, and I started to dislike the group because of it.

I mean, it’s listed as a “support group” and I imagine that the whole purpose of creating such a community is to talk about shared struggles and all of that.

So…if a bunch of women feel ostracized because of being childfree, doesn’t that mean they are doing the same exact thing that other people do to them when they start actively bashing on people who have kids?

Personally, I’d like to live in a world where people are treated with respect and we can appreciate our differences.

I have immense respect for my friends who happen to be loving parents. They have taken on a huge responsibility in life that I can’t even imagine taking on myself, so I commend them for all the hard work that goes into raising children.

I see nothing to be gained by tearing them down or trying to turn it into an “us against them” bunch of bullshit.

When I shared these thoughts in the group, the overwhelmingly negative responses I got were enough to sour the group completley for me.

I decided to leave.

Judgements Are Reserved for Others

Judgements seek to govern the lives of others, rather than our own.

Unlike opinions, which I consider personal, judgements are something we reserve for other people.

There is a reason you so often find the world “moral” right before it.

We can’t apply our judgements to ourselves because that would have to mean we did something that we believe is wrong for others to do.

Judgements seek to govern the lives of others, rather than our own.

They also seek to punish others for certain behaviors or actions.

A good universal example is an act like murder or rape.

Most people agree that such actions are morally wrong, and should therefore be punished.

Even I can say I agree with that.

I judge people who murder others just for personal satisfaction.

Here’s an example I don’t understand:

I was recently doing some research on statistics regarding attitudes towards the right to choose, and I discovered the contradiction seen above.

So, one third of all Americans who claim to be “pro-choice” are also claiming to believe that abortion is immoral?

Sorry, that doesn’t work.

It’s perfectly fine to feel like abortion is not the right choice for you to make yourself.

But how are you going to claim that you support the right of other women to have one, while simultaneously judging them as immoral if they do?

Just because you don’t choose to do it doesn’t mean you have to think less of others who do.

In fact, thinking less of them means you DON’T support their choice when it’s different from the one you make.

I mean, let’s switch the action up to better illustrate this.

Would it make sense if one third of Americans who believe murdering others is immoral also claimed to support other people’s right to do it?

No, not really.

Making The Distinction Clear

So by now, you may be wondering how we can easily keep opinions from morphing into judgements.

This isn’t difficult.

Using the same example from earlier, I recently blogged about reasons I don’t want kids.

Do I scratch my head in response to everyone who decides to pop out four or twelve kids?

Absolutely.

I can’t imagine that, I’d probably hang myself with just one.

Do I feel the need to call them names on the internet or act all superior to them because we have a difference of opinion when it comes to kids?

Nope.

I recognize that my opinions are highly personal and don’t extend beyond my own preferences.

Their choices and opinions are every bit as valid as my own.