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“Be Curious, Not Judgmental”

Walt Whitman Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images

Iconic American poet Walt Whitman wrote a litany of poetic muses. One that has always stood out for me is his wonderfully didactic adage:

“Be curious, not judgmental.”

Of course, Walt Whitman had a number of salient reasons why he would wish people would treat him and others with curiosity, rather than condemnation.

To name just a few:

  • He was the first poet to champion the use of free verse (which so many of the literary critics felt was a form of heresy —- and is why so many publishers refused to publish his work).
  • He was openly gay.
  • He was an outspoken champion for civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights, anti-slavery of any form —- at a time in American history when it was immensely unpopular and dangerous to do so.
  • He adored and stood on the table for Abraham Lincoln at a time when Lincoln was extremely unpopular. “O Captain! My Captain!”
  • After his application to join the Union army was denied, due allegedly for medical reasons, he served as a male nurse is a Washington D.C. triage. “I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them, And the white skeletons of young men-I saw them; I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war; But I saw they were not as was thought; They themselves were fully at rest-they suffer’d not; The living remain’d and suffer’d-the mother suffer’d, And the wife and the child, and the musing comrade suffer’d, And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.” (from “Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d)
  • He celebrated individuality. ”I celebrate myself and sing myself. And what I assume, you shall assume, for every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.”
  • He had the self-awareness and confidence to say, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.”


I awoke this morning with the thought of how better our world would be if we heeded Walt Whitman’s advice to “be curious, not judgmental.”

As a fan of the Arizona Cardinals I often try to approach my feelings and assessments of the front office, the coaches, the players and my fellow fans with curiosity —- but I know I need to do significantly better. It’s become so easy these days to cast out snap judgments, mostly out of frustration and sometimes perhaps often out of sheer and regrettable ignorance.

I need too do a better job of asking questions.

Asking questions is something I try to take a keen sense of pride in —-

But, I know I can do better —-

And I should do better.

Here’s one of the best reasons why —- ever —-

Therefore, I wonder if we can treat the Cardinals new season with fresh eyes and a fresh sense of curiosity.

And I wonder if we can do that here at ROTB more consistently with one another.

I think that we have come a long way —- but we still have a ways to go.

What do you think?

And what do you think of this?