Recently, Pope Francis surprised much of the world by advising that the Catholic Church nurture rather than judge single parents, gay people and unmarried straight couples who are living together.
Although he was referring to the church's stance on marriage and divorce, his message has far-ranging implications and builds a bridge between the land of religion and the land of psychology.
There are probably infinite ways to apply his philosophy of replacing judgment with nurturance in our everyday life. A valuable exercise would be to list various circumstances to which his words apply in our personal lives.
Here are some on my list:
1. Reconsider the word '"lazy." Let's try to understand what lies beneath the disparaging label. Behind inaction often lurks a fear of one kind or another. Some of us even fear failure and success simultaneously.
For example, Ms. K. said to me, "If they like my sculpture, I fear I'll ultimately disappoint them with my next piece."
With this sort of thought fixated in a person's mind, the safest course of action is inaction which can resemble the judgmental word, "lazy."
2. We often judge a person on the basis of intelligence, but it is more helpful to nurture someone's (especially a child's) interests and curiosity. For instance, Einstein didn't speak until he was 4 years old and people assumed he wasn't smart. Recently, the psychologist Angela Duckworth has identified grit, a combination of passion and perseverance, as being more significant than I.Q in predicting achievement. Acknowledging the fact that each of us has our own gifts helps to replace judgment with nurturance.
3. We judge mistakes... even make fun of ourselves and others. A better tactic is to look beyond the error and learn from it. Remembering that Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin from a mistake when his Petri dish became contaminated by a mold supports the idea that we learn from what seems like a mistake or accident.
4. In the past, depression and addiction were judged as a weakness in character. Now we that these disorders stem from biochemical imbalances that require treatment.
5. Instead of judging overweight friends, we can nurture their efforts to exercise and adjust their diets.
How do we cross the bridge from judgment to nurturance? Realizing that the passage of time alters the terrain and changes public and private perceptions can help lead to progress and peace.
Conclusion: To apply the Pope's words to a diversity of situations enhances life on our planet.