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The Opposite of Judgement Day

Have you ever gone an entire day without judging someone? Chances are you haven’t, because judging people is ingrained in our minds. However, a challenge will be posed to all of us this Friday: Refrain from judgement until the day’s end.

When I first heard about non-judgement day, I was intrigued by the idea but thought it couldn’t actually be accomplished. It seemed to me that no matter what, our mind works constantly and we can’t always control it, often leading to judgement.

Yet Eric Silver, creator of the event and Penn State professor of sociology, believes “it’s a practice.” While we may not always be able to prevent judgement, we can strive to avoid it as much as possible.

“We’re still asleep,” said Silver, “and something like this is meant as an alarm clock.” He believes that as people judge, they are cutting off their ability to learn, but most people are afraid that being nonjudgemental “is to betray their moral code.”

In his class, Silver tries to prove this point by challenging his students to not judge people such as white supremacists. While he doesn’t agree with their beliefs or actions, he recognizes that they are people just like the rest of us.

An interesting connection that the Sociology and Theatre departments at Penn State make is the fact that there is no such thing as good and evil. For instance, villains don’t believe that what they are doing is wrong. They have a reason for their actions that makes sense to them, regardless of how hard it is for us to understand.

The school of theatre uses this tactic to effectively portray a character, while Silver says the Sociology department uses it to “narrow the gap between us and them.” Silver is not asking us to change our beliefs, but instead wants us to take a day and open up our eyes to see how other people view the world.

According to Silver, “we survive as a species because we’re good at detecting danger.” Therefore judging isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we just need to be conscious of our judgements and determine if they are fair. Silver says that by judging we create a lot of suffering without even realizing it.

This Friday, to the best of my ability, I’ll avoid judgement. I don’t expect to be entirely successful, but I’ll be satisfied knowing that I’m giving everyone the chance they deserve. Imagine the possibilities of a completely non-judging Penn State, and join me in attempting it on Friday.

If you feel moved by this concept, consider clicking “attend” on the day’s Facebook event page, as well as joining Silver’s ongoing non-judgement project page.

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