Watch Your Language


I use a reading from Rupert Ross' book Returning to the Teachings to illustrate the point that judgmental, critical thinking is a narrow and limiting way to view the world. This is also an opportunity to compare cultures and talk about cultural embededness and how helpful it is to realize how much our culture affects our perspective.


Rupert Ross Returning to the Teachings Chapter 5 Watch your language.
It is available from


  1. I talk about the book and how it compares our justice system to that of Native American cultures.
  2. I summarize the story of the Ojibway woman who says she prefers to tell her story in her own language because English is such a judgmental language.
  3. I talk about the English propensity for labeling.
  4. I read several quotes from Rupert Ross, all from Chapter 5, Watch Your Language.

I will summarize here:

  • When we view people non-judgmentally, we honor their uniqueness and value as human beings.
  • When we label people, we deny the complexity of humans. The labels tend to stick and they limit the possibility of growth and change that is the very center of our humanity.

Judgmental labeling is a narrow and limiting way to view the world.


  • Can you remember times in your life when you were labeled negatively? How did it feel? Do you think it was an accurate view of you as a whole person?
  • Does the U.S. judicial system label people? Does that get in the way of people changing?
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