Avoiding Pharisaism

The things that people do would look so different to us if we only understood the reasons for their actions, nor would we blame them so much for their faults if we knew all the circumstances of their lives.  Even their sins might not look so hideous if we could feel what pressure and perhaps suffering had caused them.

The safest course is to be as understanding as possible, and, where our understanding fails, to call charity to its aid.  Learn to distinguish between persons and the things they do, and while we may not always approve of their actions, have a sympathy and feeling of kindness for the persons themselves.

It may even be that what we consider faults and weaknesses in others are only prejudices on our own part.  Some of us would like to see everybody fitted to our own pattern, and what a tiresome world this would be if that were done.  We should be willing to allow others the freedoms we demand for ourselves.  Everyone has the right to self-expression.

If we keep this genial attitude toward the world and the people in it, we will keep our own minds and feelings healthy and clean.  Even the vigilance necessary to guard our thoughts in this way will bring us rewards in better disciplined minds and happier dispositions.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Ozarks

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