[continued from yesterday]
...It follows from this that a man can, if he likes, always have a kindly feeling for his fellow-man, no matter what may be the provocation to the contrary. Indeed he has a duty to do so; and the greater he is, the less will he be influenced by a single point of view, the more will he endeavour to see all round, and upon the whole conception to pass his judgment.
Let us then, in our dealings with others, remind ourselves of one or two principles, quite platitudinous in themselves, but which, nevertheless, if we will keep them in mind, will save us many a rash judgment, and harsh word, and hasty action.
For such things are the characteristics of small people; when we ourselves are guilty of them, we know how puny and despicable we are in our own eyes, and in those of others; moreover they cultivate puniness, and react upon their perpetrators in a multitude of ways.
The first principle is to accept what has already been said, that is to believe in everybody; let us call it the principle of faith. There are some who preach the opposite; they say the prudent man will believe in nobody.
But the doctrine of such people condemns itself; for it forbids us to believe in them. If they merely said: "Put implicit faith in nobody," they might have a case; for there is no one who has not a weak point somewhere, on which, for his sake as well as for our own, it is unfair to put too much reliance.
But there is a world of difference between putting an implicit trust in others and believing in them. The former may be, and more often than not is, an act of weakness, a mere leaning for self support, an endeavour to shift one's own responsibility to the shoulders of another; the latter is the deliberate act of a strong man, and is usually a support and strengthening to others even more than to oneself. By believing in others, then, we mean the conviction that the evil a bad man may do does not represent the whole man; that the failure of a man does not show all his capabilities; that whatever may be a man's weakness, it is usually only a covering for something very strong and beautiful underneath.
We may pass by unnoticed a quiet, harmless, passive creature, and ignore him with the pitying comment that he has nothing in him; but we may also be ignoring as deep a soul as we shall ever meet in our lifetime. We may set aside a man because he is a miserable failure; but we may be also trampling on a throbbing, bleeding heart, whose yearnings are far greater than our own, which feels its failures greater than do we, which has failed while we have succeeded chiefly because its ideals are greater than ours....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918