What’s worthless, and what’s not right.

Judgement is worthless. Judgment is not right. Judgments about worth are made about friends, colleagues, co-counsel, opposing counsel, and even me. The phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” should just end at “Don’t judge.”  There are countless examples on the web where snippets of insight are given to us where we are momentarily able to see past someone’s exterior and into the inner battles they are fighting. A perfect example was this Humans of New York Post: http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/119034791406/we-broke-up-when-she-left-for-the-peace-corps. This is a tragic story, and as with all HONY stories, just a guy you might pass on the street. Perhaps he wasn’t as friendly as you wanted him to be. Or maybe he couldn’t make up his grief-stricken mind when ordering his Starbucks, thus making you two minutes late to your next appointment. You mutter under your breath, “Ugh, this guy is worthless.”  I have heard this phrase “he/she is worthless” so often, and it makes my stomach churn every time I hear it.  Nobody is worthless. Nobody. That phrase should be expelled from use. Everyone is worth something to someone.

What is it for something to be “not right?” I hear this phrase, too. “That’s not right.” Always in judgment. Yes, I realize the irony of sitting here in judgment of those who say it. There are things that are truly “not right.” Murder is not right. Rape is not right. Injustice is not right. But we’ve stripped the gravity from this phrase by applying it to the banal or uncomfortable. Someone has violated the social mores with which you’ve been raised, and that’s “not right.” Someone didn’t invite all 24 kids in your child’s class to the birthday party, and that’s “not right.” No, it’s not “not right.” It’s gauche, it’s a faux pas, it’s some other judgmental french word, but it’s not “not right.” “Not right” is a moral judgment that is tossed around too frequently. It imparts an artificial moral status to an action that doesn’t call for it. It inappropriately raises something that we don’t like to something that violates a moral boundary. I wish I could never hear used again unless under appropriate circumstances.


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