06 Jan 2013

Don’t Rush to Judgment

All Posts 26 Comments

I can’t give any of the details, but there were several incidents this week in my personal life where a few different people, observing just snippets of my actions, might very understandably get upset with me. The thing was, in each of the cases, if the people could see the bigger context and why I did what I did, then they would either have been less upset, or in some cases not angry at all.

I’m sure that has happened to all of you reading this. When you’re a little kid, you imagine you can go through life without “getting in trouble” so long as you follow a simple set of rules. But as you get older, that gets harder to do. It’s not just that you are tempted to sell out for money or whatever, but even if you are genuinely trying to be principled, or loyal to your friends, you get put in really awkward situations.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to say that if you understand exactly what I’m talking about, then try flipping it around. In other words, there are people out there whom I’ve judged in the past, attributing the worst of motives and so forth. But I bet if I saw a movie of their lives, I would be much more understanding of why they did the things that struck me as so outrageous.

26 Responses to “Don’t Rush to Judgment”

  1. Chris says:

    Amen, Bob!

  2. Davis says:

    I want details and I want them now.

  3. rayray says:

    I don’t think there’s any justification for cat juggling.

  4. Jake says:

    This could be a great opening voiceover to a movie.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      “In a world, where a man is driven to fractional reserve banking, one critic can make a difference….”

  5. David R. Henderson says:

    Dear Bob,
    Nice post. It reminds me of some advice that a senior colleague, now retired, gave me about 20+ years ago. It was to say to myself, when I see someone doing something that disappoints me, “He’s doing the best he can.” I don’t always remember to do that and it’s not always true. But it has helped me tremendously not to carry around a lot of anger and pettiness.

  6. Joseph Fetz says:

    I am forgiving almost to a fault, but I do have certain lines that are concrete, and waivers are only given upon individual circumstance. I tend to look at the nature and character of a person from a conditional perspective, because I know that I’ve also been in some bad places myself (I am empathetic). But if a person’s character naturally tends toward hurting others (physically or mentally), that’s it! You’re out.

  7. Adrian Gabriel says:

    Professor Murphy, I can honestly say that I have never met you in person, but I can also honestly say that you seem like one of the most honest and genuine dudes around. I highly admire and respect you. You are one of my heroes, and as a fellow Christian, I would forgive any action you felt was unjust or unscrupulous even. Some of us carry ourselves to very high standards and feel we are failing every day at very simple things, while others feel they are excelling at everything thing and can get very egotistical about their simple accomplishments. The key is to find a happy medium, yet as a Libertarian I suggest people should simply respect property rights and they can act however they want. Making value-judgements is where people go wrong, and even if we make them ourselves, it is key to notice and work to correct them. This works the same with others, and many times people are very uptight and unforgiving. It is the more honorable thing to forgive and forget. Anyone incapable of such a simple task is a man full of hubris. But we should forgive them as well. Keep being the best economist the world has at its disposal.

  8. Silas Barta says:

    Alright, fine Bob: what “context” could justify you hitting that newborn kitten with a fruit basket??? And don’t give me the line about it being empty blah blah blah…

  9. skylien says:

    You know that such a post just makes people quite curious. Is there is a follow up?

  10. Gene Callahan says:

    “But I bet if I saw a movie of their lives, I would be much more understanding of why they did the things that struck me as so outrageous.”

    In my case, you’d be even angrier.

    • Ken B says:

      Gene, on this blog just seeing your name makes some people angrier!

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        It’s nothing against him personally, it’s just that the name “Gene” doesn’t have positive connotations to it. I blame his parents.

    • Chris says:

      But, Gene, what happens in Bangkok is supposed to stay in Bangkok. I told you videotaping was a bad idea!

  11. Mary says:

    Live and let live. Do what you think is God guided and move on. You owe no explanations.

  12. joeftansey says:

    This one time I saw a woman buying fast food for her morbidly obese 8 year old.

    I just judged a double digit percentage of America.

  13. Sam says:

    This is about that Spice Girls karaoke video, isn’t it?

  14. Trevor Peck says:

    This post was important enough to me that I reread it every couple of months. I reflect on it often, from many angles, but mostly on trying to understand others (or accept without understanding) and wishing they would do likewise for me.

    But today I think there is more economics in this post than I realized. Perhaps this misunderstanding explains why some do not accept that choices demonstrate desire – they don’t “see the movie”, so, with this lack of understanding, they think choices made by others are unreasonable, thus the desire to “help”.

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