Critics of Miami often claim that our city is divided and fragmented. Well, they are wrong. All of us in Miami have something very special in common: We are all judgmental. Hondurans are critical of Salvadorians, Dominicans fight with Haitians, Cubans don’t like to be confused with Puerto Ricans, and the poor Argentineans from Buenos Aires cannot talk to those of us from Cordoba because we are not as erudite, sophisticated, and pretentious as they are. But in times of need, we all come together around something we all love in Miami: plastic surgery. When it comes to flesh and flash, we all lower our defenses, show solidarity, and compare prices between Dr. Buttsky and Dr. Bustos.
No doubt, we need more opportunities to suspend judgment and collaborate, which is not easy. Take me, for example. I try really hard not to be judgmental of people who are judgmental, but if I don’t judge their judgmental attitude, they will continue to judge others, generating in their victims a judgmental attitude that they will perpetuate for generations to come, because, as everybody knows, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and silicone implants don’t grow on trees.
I believe that change starts within you, which is why I joined Judgmentals Anonymous (JA). After we all recited the prayer and reviewed the 12 steps, it was time for each of us to share our innermost judgmental attitudes. After hearing a litany of sexist, racist, classist, homophobic, ethnocentric, discriminatory, abusive comments about every possible group in Miami, my judgmentalism looked pretty innocuous. “I’m judgmental of people who are judgmental,” I said, to which everybody said I’m not being honest. “Really,” I said, “that’s my problem, I swear.” That did not go down well and they all started judging me for not being honest and insisting that I must harbor some resentment toward some group, some deep seated hatred. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be here” they said. Eventually they kicked me out of the group for being a phony judgmental, which I thought was the worst kind of judgmentalism.
Puzzled by my dilemmas I consulted with Dr. Clearhead from the Department of Philosophy at Cambridge University. I wanted to know how to overcome my negative perceptions of people who are judgmental without perpetuating, at the same time, their judgmental attitude by adopting a passive attitude myself towards their judgmentalism. He told me that this is known as “The Judgmental’s Paradox” and that I should try some plastic surgery instead of worrying about silly things.
Dejected by the lack of psychological and philosophical answers to my dilemma, I decided to ask someone who was pragmatic, fair and balanced, so I contacted Fox News. A spokesman for the organization told me that the best way to overcome my paradox is to repeal Obamacare.
I resorted to some introspection. I tried to remember a time when I was the subject of judgmentalism. Perhaps I had some repressed memories that were bugging me. Perhaps the folk in JA were right after all. Without much effort I recalled the following event, which was, unlike most of the things I write about, true. I was invited to Sydney, Australia, to give a keynote address at a conference. This was soon after I had published a book with a friend on the topic of the conference. After a long day at the conference, I was invited by some local colleagues to have dinner with them. Not all of us had met before, and no sooner did we sit down that we started talking about my book. Professor Magnum (not his real name), who did not know that I was the author of the book, started berating my work big time. While others around the table were trying to motion to him that I was right there, sitting in front of him, he kept talking about flaws in the book. When finally somebody whispered to him that I was one of the authors of the book, he turned beet red and tried to get out of it diplomatically. It’s not like I can’t handle criticism, but the guy had no idea what he was talking about. He was aggrandizing himself and pompously reciting other authors to show off his knowledge. Never mind he hasn’t published anything of importance himself, or ever made the minutest contribution to any field of inquiry. Not to mention he had bad breadth. The guy was a pretentious snobbish arrogant, intellectually inferior academic with no original idea of his own. He reminded me of so many others like him who make a career criticizing others instead of doing something useful themselves. These people are intolerable. I tell you, I can’t stand them!
I wonder if I could go back to JA.