A fairer judge

No one should be judge in his own case.
Publilius Syrus
1st century B.C.

When we see the words “judge” and “case” in the same sentence, our thoughts naturally turn to the legal system. It seems obvious that, within that context, you should not be the judge for your own case. We all have a natural bias that would prevent being totally objective.

But if you stop and think about the words of Syrus, you’ll see that they apply far beyond the legal system.

We’re often judge in our own case. And most of the time, because of our natural bias, we’re very poor judges.

Consider self-esteem: how we think about ourselves. Many people suffer from low self-esteem, which has a great impact on how much they accomplish in life. It’s not possible for us to be effective or impartial judges of ourselves. More often than not, we sell ourselves short. We consider our shortfalls too harshly and give too little credit to the positive things we do.

Another example is how we judge what’s important in life. We pursue possessions vigorously, but once we obtain them, the joy we expected isn’t there. We’ve become a materialistic society, wanting bigger houses, fancier cars and the better things in life. Yet once we get on this materialistic treadmill, we constantly strive to achieve bigger and bigger goals while the pleasure from each achievement is smaller every time.

We often go down the wrong path with respect to career, friends, relationships and life goals, and we end up squandering years of happiness in the process. Yet once we’ve chosen a course of action, we often become determined to prove that our initial decision was correct. We can’t adequately judge the appropriate moment to change course.

If we’re such poor judges, what’s the answer? It’s simple: we need to recognize our inability to judge our own case, then protect ourselves by making use of trusted advisers. I’m not suggesting that you give up responsibility for your actions–just that you realize the inherent bias in your own judgment. Friends, mentors, and advisers can provide a more objective viewpoint.

Surround yourself with wise counselors and learn to use them. They’ll give you a more balanced opinion than you can give yourself.

In the multitude of counselors there is safety.
Proverbs 11:14

Copyright © 2015 John Chancellor

Comments are closed.