Lessons from Lockdown #2 – Judgement and Judgementalism. In a previous piece for this magazine, I introduced the concept of the Misanthropic Maverick. Someone whose difference makes them indifferent to the presence of others – and how I found it helpful at the start of lockdown.
Since then, lockdown has been effectively lessened here in the UK. We’re now in “lockdown-lite”, with actual freer movement (still with the token gesture of more face masks and a few feet between us all when we queue outside supermarkets) and political figures brazenly flouting the social isolation rules because there’s a general feeling of “we’ve moved on now, guys”.
Except some of us haven’t moved on, actually. The Misanthropic tendencies that made lockdown a time for focus and, in some cases, relief, mean that we Misanthropic Mavericks are being wrong-footed. Just when we were accustomed to the freedom NOT to be with people all the time, we’re faced with this half-way house, where we can go out a bit more if we want to … and there’s a distinct expectation that we will want to.
What if we don’t want to? What if the Misanthropic Mavericks find all this relief-meets-chumminess a bit premature – dangerous even? How come it’s suddenly safe to go to the beach and be 6 feet away from someone, when it wasn’t safe to do it a month ago? It’s not wholly to do with the famous “R” statistics, where the numbers of deaths in the UK are plummeting because there’s a solution in place, because this isn’t the case, sadly. There are a lot of other issues at play here, and they are a game of judgement.
Judgement and judgementalism …
Life is a balancing act. Often portrayed as bipolar alternatives (rich/poor, happy/sad etc), our lives are a hugely complex Möbus strip of factors which interchange and never quite all come into focus at the same time. It may be that some of the people taking the policy decisions around the end of lockdown are described by some as “Mavericks” and, to a certain extent that may be true – they are operating with wilfully-independent thinking alright. I would argue, however, that actually their thinking is sociopathic not maverick. It is prepared to take a long view on the UK population, its health, age profile and preparedness to forgive every five years at the ballot box. This is, therefore, an issue of judgement, of choice, and of imposing those choices on others because theirs is a judgement at the macro level.
This judgement has, in turn, led to the widespread inference that those of us rather more cautious about this partial freedom to interact are, in some way “chicken”. The Maverick thought processes which mark us all out (thinking differently, seeing round the corners of problems, exploring the “what ifs” of life) also mark us out as the ones who can spot a problem hurtling at us like a freight train. When you add in the Misanthropic element of not feeling the need for others’ extrinsic validation, then that adds a whole other dimension.
The opportunity then arises for those willing to buy into “lockdown-lite” to exercise a different type of judgement – a judgement ABOUT people. I can vouch for the fact this exists. I have been lectured about the “need” to return to the office, despite official guidance to stay at home and to stay alert. The misanthrope in me welcomed the new ways of working. It also triggers judgementalism in others – I am somehow seen as a shirker, rejecting being in the office alongside others somehow validating my existence in a way that being massively productive at home did not.
Judgement and judgementalism …
So please allow me to make a plea here and now. Lockdown has apparently made people think differently. Well, in this case, we Mavericks need to be recognised for what we can offer, not judged and criticised for not falling in line with the old ways of working (which didn’t work that well anyway). Work with us, and you’ll reap the benefits of our independent, courageous and innovative thinking. Judge, criticise or constrict us, and you will miss out on so much. Can you really afford that?
If you would like to read, lessons from lockdown #1 please click below.