THE OTHER SIDE
[continued from yesterday]
When, then, we make up our minds about another, let us give both ourselves and our victim a fair start. The chances are that every man we meet is a human being and not a portent; and every human being has both his weaknesses and his good points. No one is wholly bad, very few are wholly good; if then we hear anyone indiscriminately praised, let us not at once imagine to ourselves an ideal so perfect that we must inevitably be disappointed when we meet.
Nor, on the other hand, need we because of our disappointment cancel all that we have heard. Probably the truth lies midway between the two. If the man is not the unrivalled genius we fancied, he may be very talented all the same; if he does not always show his power, it may be there ready for its occasion; if he is not a saint, he may have that in him which makes for sanctity.
Few people do not say a good thing sometimes; few are not mortified in some respects; even if there are few who pray, at least there are few who do not desire it and who do not make the effort sometimes. - Or to put our conclusion in another way, if we did not form our judgments of others beforehand we should usual1y find that our impressions of them would almost invariably be good.
There is another factor which may often warp our estimate of others. The story is told in various forms of the visitor who was being shown through a lunatic asylum by a harmless inmate, sensible on every point but one. As they walked along a corridor they passed another harmless lunatic. "See that man," said the guide, "what do you think is his craze? He actual1y thinks himself to be the Holy Ghost!"
Then, as the visitor made no comment, he added: "Isn't he absurd, considering I am the Holy Ghost myself!"....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918