Fether

Judgement and attributing motives

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I’ve been trying to put this into more sensible words, so maybe you can help me complete my thought.

We are asked not to judge unrighteously of others. Part of this includes not attributing negative motives to one’s actions. But what about attributing innocent or positive motives to one’s actions. Is that unrighteous? I would argue no, but What exactly is it that makes that not unrighteous?

I have a co-worker of mine that struggles deeply with emotional trauma. They, on occasion, call out for help in inappropriate ways. Person #1 assumes that this co-worker knows exactly what they are doing and being deliberately manipulative with their tactics and claims they are just wanting attention. Person #2 believes the co-worker is just in deep pain and knows no other way to get through it then by doing what they is doing.

Neither can really know what is going on, but both are still attributing motive and making some sort of judgement, yet one seems to be the more righteous of the judgements.

Is one better than the other? Why?

Are there any scriptures or words from prophets that add insight?

As of now, the only thing that comes to mind is Mosiah 4:19 “For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?”

when we refuse to offer grace to others, we in turn are becoming incapable, or at least hindered, in our ability to help those that are begging.

 

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a thread about depression and trauma, nor about who is more right. The core question is why is it appropriate to attribute innocence or positive motives, but not ok to attribute negative motives

Edited by Fether

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I don’t know that I look at it quite as much in terms of “sinfulness”, as simple human relationships.

At a future day humanity will all have to be reconciled, not only to God, but to each other.  In that reconciliation process, Person #1 will have more work to do than Person #2 will.  Why entertain attitudes and thought processes during the day of our mortal probation, that we know we’ll have to un-learn at a future time when such change will apparently be harder than it is now?

That said, in the here-and-now Person #2 probably needs to be wary of being taken advantage of/being subjected to behaviors that, intentional or not, constitute some form of abuse.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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1 minute ago, Just_A_Guy said:

That said, in the here-and-now Person #2 probably needs to be wary of being taken advantage of/being subjected to behaviors that, intentional or not, constitute some form of abuse.

I would argue that one can easily have the views of person #2, but still have a sense of personal space and self respect. It is not apparent to me that person #2 would naturally be taken advantage of. Though I do believe the opposite to be true. people who are easily taken advantage of of likely share similar thoughts as person #2.

Its sort of a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square situation.

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6 minutes ago, Fether said:

I would argue that one can easily have the views of person #2, but still have a sense of personal space and self respect. It is not apparent to me that person #2 would naturally be taken advantage of. Though I do believe the opposite to be true. people who are easily taken advantage of of likely share similar thoughts as person #2.

Its sort of a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square situation.

Perhaps; but this is an age of weaponized compassion.  There’s a reason the Savior combined “harmless as doves” with “wise as serpents”.  And in certain circumstances, I think it’s useful and maybe even healthy to just be able to say (not accusingly, but in a matter-of-fact sort of way) “no, he’s crazy and I don’t owe him anything.”

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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2 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Perhaps; but this is an age of weaponized compassion.  There’s a reason the Savior combined “harmless as doves” with “wise as serpents”.

I definitely think it is something to be aware of. But I refuse to believe (and I imagine you do to, I don’t want to misrepresent what you are saying) that attributing positive motive, thinking the best of others and offering grace to those that make mistakes also means you are naive and will be taken advantage of.

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2 minutes ago, Fether said:

I definitely think it is something to be aware of. But I refuse to believe (and I imagine you do to, I don’t want to misrepresent what you are saying) that attributing positive motive, thinking the best of others and offering grace to those that make mistakes also means you are naive and will be taken advantage of.

I agree.  I just think it renders one a little more vulnerable to possible exploitation, if one doesn’t have a clear set of boundaries and a firm understanding for where ultimate accountability lies.  

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Just now, Just_A_Guy said:

I agree.  I just think it renders one a little more vulnerable to possible exploitation, if one doesn’t have a clear set of boundaries and a firm understanding for where ultimate accountability lies.  

True. I think this is true of virtually all Christlike attributes. 

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You must have a kindler gentler work environment than I do.

1 hour ago, Fether said:

co-worker of mine that struggles deeply with emotional trauma. They, on occasion, call out for help in inappropriate ways.

This is not appropriate for my workplace.  

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21 minutes ago, mikbone said:

You must have a kindler gentler work environment than I do.

This is not appropriate for my workplace.  

We have a very unique and tight work place. We are all 1099 contracted employees, speak openly of God and personal growth. It’s actually pretty cool. But can cause issues that you don’t see elsewhere.

We are all close friends

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Then Elder Oaks said this during a BYU devotional:

"The presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law is a vital rule to guide the conduct of a criminal trial, but it is not a valid restraint on personal decisions. There are important restraints upon our intermediate judgments, but the presumption of innocence is not one of them."

Another quote:

"A... principle of a righteous intermediate judgment is that whenever possible we will refrain from judging people and only judge situations."

For context here is the link:

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/dallin-h-oaks/judge-judging/

Just for clarification "intermediate" judgments is spoken of in contrast to "final" judgments or in other words judging someone as being beyond saving, which we are never qualified to do. But intermediate judgments are the ones necessary for making our way through this world.

Based on Elder Oaks' talk I would say that neither coworker can righteously judge the motives or reasoning behind the inappropriate behavior but everyone is justified in determining the behavior as inappropriate and perhaps in need of being addressed. I think that's a great distinction made between judging people vs situations. Smart man that Elder Oaks.

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15 minutes ago, laronius said:

Based on Elder Oaks' talk I would say that neither coworker can righteously judge the motives or reasoning behind the inappropriate behavior but everyone is justified in determining the behavior as inappropriate and perhaps in need of being addressed. 

But where does this leave us? I feel like this falls short of the issue. Both coworkers agree the actions are inappropriate. However, there views on the motives change everything. Person #1 is not going to offer aid, but rather avoid them and continue to complain about them. Person #2 is going to have more patience with them and offer assistance where appropriate.

What does looking at an action and say “this is bad” really accomplish if there is no thoughts on what the person needs?

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@Just_A_Guy and anyone else who wishes to chime in.

At what point does it become appropriate to assume I’ll intentions from a person like this? Obviously, if they come at you with a knife, there is ill intent, but is there any benefit found in assuming harmful motives for someone who is, on occasion, acting inappropriately in their cry for help?

Is it a gospel principle to think the best of others? Is this apparent on what we learn about patience, forgiveness, and mercy?

Edited by Fether

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5 minutes ago, Fether said:

But where does this leave us? I feel like this falls short of the issue. Both coworkers agree the actions are inappropriate. However, there views on the motives change everything. Person #1 is not going to offer aid, but rather avoid them and continue to complain about them. Person #2 is going to have more patience with them and offer assistance where appropriate.

What does looking at an action and say “this is bad” really accomplish if there is no thoughts on what the person needs?

Neither coworker is justified in basing their decision to address the issue by guessing at the motive. The decision to address the inappropriate behavior should generally be based, as per Elder Oaks, on the situation, not the motive. A decision to try to help him is born out of love and compassion or even just necessity, not some predetermined reason for the behavior. Now if you want to talk about how to actually help him then you'd have to move past merely making judgements and find the real reason behind his behavior and perhaps involve professionals. But that process would be unique to the situation and you didn't want to go there.

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3 hours ago, Fether said:

The core question is why is it appropriate to attribute innocence or positive motives, but not ok to attribute negative motives

There are scriptures that come to my mind when considering the core question:

1. Matthew 7: 3-5; Luke 6: 41-42 - Judgement is more clear when we first remove the beam from our own eye, and sometimes there is no mote to remove.

2. Doctrine and Covenants 64: 11 - Explaining the concept that we are to let God judge between us. The core concept is that God is not judging from an imperfect knowledge of things, but a perfect knowledge of things. If our knowledge was perfect, neither of the two judgements would be seen as positive or negative as the judgement would be just and true either way.

This then induces the question, is one more appropriate then than the other? If one's mercy is wrong and it is enabling, is it then more appropriate than calling out the behavior? I think the world we live in induces this dichotomy -- Don't judge -- you be you -- and I will be me. This is in part why we see what we do today. If no one is willing to call out a behavior as -- bad, not OK, wrong -- then anything goes. Has our Father in heaven created a world where anything goes, or are their rules, laws, and order?

3. In light of #2 - Knowledge - The depth of knowledge, or our closeness to Christ, will ultimately allow us to see things as they really are. Jacob 4:13

4. I think you have already highlighted the next part with are we not all beggars -- mercy can't rob justice, and justice can't rob mercy. If we are unwilling to show mercy/grace -- when it is due -- then I would think this is pride and pride is sin.

5. Doctrine and Covenants 121: 43 -- Sharpness I was told means -- before it is too late. If we aren't willing to invite, chasten, encourage, etc... it might then be too late and the person develops a habit. The scriptures are interwoven, thus this verse correlates with everything else previously shared. It is not an isolated verse of scripture.

I'm sure there are other scriptures, but this suffices.

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4 hours ago, Fether said:

The core question is why is it appropriate to attribute innocence or positive motives, but not ok to attribute negative motives

Well, Joseph Smith did say this:

"It is better, said Joseph Smith, to feed ten impostors than to run the risk of turning away one honest petition"

This principle can be applied to not just food but to any judgement we make

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i see very little moral difference between person one and person two. Both are exercising a form of judgement, and I can't see why or how coming to a favourable or unfavourable judgement makes any judgement more or less righteous or unrighteous. I think the crucial criteria to be used when evaluating any judgement is the accuracy or the judgement and how well informed it was, not righteousness. Nor do I think any judgement is necessary in the situation you have described. In an ideal world, the appropriateness of their method for calling for help, or their motivations for calling for help, should have no bearing on how we respond. How we respond should be determined by what their needs are and our capacity to meet those needs, and not our judgements about the methods they use to call for help. Of course, I can see how this can make us vulnerable to exploitation, as JAG has pointed out, but I suspect that the Good Samaritan was not too concerned about being exploited.  

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7 hours ago, laronius said:

Neither coworker is justified in basing their decision to address the issue by guessing at the motive … Now if you want to talk about how to actually help him then you'd have to move past merely making judgements and find the real reason behind his behavior .

Just so I understand. You are saying we shouldn’t judge motives… but we should find the reason for why someone does something?

7 hours ago, laronius said:

you didn't want to go there.

Please expound in this satement

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7 hours ago, Anddenex said:

There are scriptures that come to my mind when considering the core question:

1. Matthew 7: 3-5; Luke 6: 41-42 - Judgement is more clear when we first remove the beam from our own eye, and sometimes there is no mote to remove.

2. Doctrine and Covenants 64: 11 - Explaining the concept that we are to let God judge between us. The core concept is that God is not judging from an imperfect knowledge of things, but a perfect knowledge of things. If our knowledge was perfect, neither of the two judgements would be seen as positive or negative as the judgement would be just and true either way.

This then induces the question, is one more appropriate then than the other? If one's mercy is wrong and it is enabling, is it then more appropriate than calling out the behavior? I think the world we live in induces this dichotomy -- Don't judge -- you be you -- and I will be me. This is in part why we see what we do today. If no one is willing to call out a behavior as -- bad, not OK, wrong -- then anything goes. Has our Father in heaven created a world where anything goes, or are their rules, laws, and order?

3. In light of #2 - Knowledge - The depth of knowledge, or our closeness to Christ, will ultimately allow us to see things as they really are. Jacob 4:13

4. I think you have already highlighted the next part with are we not all beggars -- mercy can't rob justice, and justice can't rob mercy. If we are unwilling to show mercy/grace -- when it is due -- then I would think this is pride and pride is sin.

5. Doctrine and Covenants 121: 43 -- Sharpness I was told means -- before it is too late. If we aren't willing to invite, chasten, encourage, etc... it might then be too late and the person develops a habit. The scriptures are interwoven, thus this verse correlates with everything else previously shared. It is not an isolated verse of scripture.

I'm sure there are other scriptures, but this suffices.

So say there is a friend, like the one above, who struggles deeply with emotional pain and trauma, and on occasion acted inappropriately to deal with it. One can easily assume, as illustrated, that they are either being manipulative and seeking attention, or just doesn’t realize what they are doing and are simply crying out for help. What would the appropriate thought process and actions be?

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11 hours ago, Fether said:

I’ve been trying to put this into more sensible words, so maybe you can help me complete my thought.

We are asked not to judge unrighteously of others. Part of this includes not attributing negative motives to one’s actions. But what about attributing innocent or positive motives to one’s actions. Is that unrighteous? I would argue no, but What exactly is it that makes that not unrighteous?

I have a co-worker of mine that struggles deeply with emotional trauma. They, on occasion, call out for help in inappropriate ways. Person #1 assumes that this co-worker knows exactly what they are doing and being deliberately manipulative with their tactics and claims they are just wanting attention. Person #2 believes the co-worker is just in deep pain and knows no other way to get through it then by doing what they is doing.

Neither can really know what is going on, but both are still attributing motive and making some sort of judgement, yet one seems to be the more righteous of the judgements.

Is one better than the other? Why?

Are there any scriptures or words from prophets that add insight?

As of now, the only thing that comes to mind is Mosiah 4:19 “For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?”

when we refuse to offer grace to others, we in turn are becoming incapable, or at least hindered, in our ability to help those that are begging.

 

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a thread about depression and trauma, nor about who is more right. The core question is why is it appropriate to attribute innocence or positive motives, but not ok to attribute negative motives

When we possess charity, we look beyond motive as a factor in our attitude toward others. When we have charity toward everyone, assessing motive is a secondary activity in determining how we express that charity, and the Spirit will help us discern anything relevant.

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1 hour ago, askandanswer said:

Nor do I think any judgement is necessary in the situation you have described. In an ideal world, the appropriateness of their method for calling for help, or their motivations for calling for help, should have no bearing on how we respond. How we respond should be determined by what their needs are and our capacity to meet those needs, and not our judgements about the methods they use to call for help. Of course, I can see how this can make us vulnerable to exploitation, as JAG has pointed out, but I suspect that the Good Samaritan was not too concerned about being exploited.  

One main issue at hand is ‘when do we decide that our help is doing more harm than good?’. If my friend is being manipulative and simply seeking attention, at what point do I stop offering assistance and what justifies this? Surely it is a judgement of sorts, am I wrong?

Edited by Fether

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6 minutes ago, CV75 said:

When we possess charity, we look beyond motive as a factor in our attitude toward others. When we have charity toward everyone, assessing motive is a secondary activity in determining how we express that charity, and the Spirit will help us discern anything relevant.

What would be the charitable approach if we find that the person is being manipulative? To call them out on it? To just ignore them?

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One other issue that I am struggling with his the gossip and complaining. Is it appropriate for person #1 to gossip and complain about the coworker that he sees as being manipulative and attention seeking? Is it appropriate to complain and gossip about anyone no matter how evil they may be? is speaking evil of others appropriate when the one you are speaking of is evil?

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Nope - gossip, complaining, manipulation, and attention seeking activities are all bad.  They should not take place in any adult interaction.  Shouldn’t happen in a family or work place. 

These co-workers have problems that are best addressed outside of the workplace.  

In my and many large work places when someone is disruptive, they get written up with a formal complaint.  Formal complaints have to be reviewed by those in authority.  After the review, usually a warning or after repeated offenses an action is taken.  Mandated therapy, anger management, transfer to different section.  

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2 hours ago, Fether said:

What would be the charitable approach if we find that the person is being manipulative? To call them out on it? To just ignore them?

I think our approach should vary according to each individual situation, including our own knowledge, skill and aptitude in properly identifying and dealing with manipulative behavior (regardless of the motive of said behavior). But charity and the companionship of the Holy Ghost are certainly assets.

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So here is where I am currently at with things now.

As a principle, I actually don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with attributing impure motive. Those do exist and we need to know this in order to keep ourselves and others safe. And sometimes, if someone is being deliberately manipulative, it is important to know this. 

Another friend of mine shared a story of a Bishop trying to decide whether to help this person or not with money and food. My friend had recently employed this person at his company the person showed up for training and when he realized there was actual… well… work that needed doing, he said “I need to go grab my keys that I left in my car”, and never came back. My friend shared this with  the Bishop and it showed the Bishop that the person was lying about his situation and that he was only looking for handouts. This is a situation where his motives were made more clear and appropriate actions could be made.

I think what bothers me the most is how often people (who have no experience with any form of depression) say negative things about my co-worker. Calling them insane, manipulative, making sweeping statements that depression is fake, that they just need to get over it, making fun of the things they says and do, and just complaining about them openly. All doing it with a hostile tone in their voice. I am not convinced that this is in line with what Christ wants of us.

We can lose the tone, drop the gossip, use softer wording, and still accomplish the goal of not being taken advantage of and warning others of it too.

So I am fine with people thinking my co-worker is manipulative (though I would still argue against it), but there seems to be the sense that it is ok to speak evil of them because we have pegged them as being this bad thing and doing it on purpose.

In the gospel setting, the only people Christ cannot be helped by his grace are those that refuse it, rebel and are deliberately doing evil. In a sense, accusing my co-worker of doing this gives us reason to not offer that grace to them. It’s similar to the idea that it is ok to punch Nazi’s, so if we start calling people Nazi’s we can then justify punching them in the face.

Couple other thoughts:

- There is a difference between a wild horse that deliberately tramples and kills you out of fear and self defense, and a grizzly bear that deliberately kill you because they want to eat you. We are justified in killing a grizzly bear to protect ourselves and others, but are we doing good by killing a scared horse? Treating a person who doesn’t know how to cry out for help appropriately like a conman is going to do great harm.

- "It is better, to feed ten impostors than to run the risk of turning away one honest petition” 

- “When we feel hurt or angry, it is quite easy to judge other people, often assigning dark motives to their actions in order to justify our own feelings of resentment… But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.” - Elder Uchtdorf

 

 

KEY TAKE AWAYS:

- Attributing motives is not evil, but something we must do in order to know how to act in situations.

- It is easy to attribute false and negative motives to justify our own anger toward them and avoid doing what is right.

- Gossip is never appropriate

- We are all beggars and ought to offer the same grace to others we hope to receive from Christ

- Treating someone who has innocent or positive motives like they have negative motives can do much unneeded harm

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