THE OTHER SIDE
WHEN we are young we naturally believe in everyone we meet. A child who has had anything like a home has been brought up on trust and confidence; it has not learnt to disbelieve or doubt, at all events those whom it knows.
Still, even a child instinctively fears those whom it does not know; a stranger is to it something to be dreaded, something to be suspected of being on the whole more evil than good.
When we grow a little older we think we outgrow this fear. But in matter of fact it is commonly more intensified, though it may show itself along another line. Some may call it shyness; some may call it criticism; whatever outward expression it may assume there is a tendency in us to think hard things of those whom we do not know, to picture strangers to ourselves as persons rather to be feared than welcomed, to dread meeting them, and to be anxious even to pain about what we shall find when we make their acquaintance.
Then when the meeting does come, in nine cases out of ten we are agreeably surprised. The stranger is very much like ourselves after all. The great man is not so great; or if he is, he is obviously great against his will. The scholar is a child, the soldier a school-boy magnified; we come across them one by one and condemn ourselves for our preconceived judgments. When we made them we were little better than children; we feared what was unknown; when we come to know it we are ashamed of our fears....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918