Selflessness trumps judgment
If all the world is a stage, then it can be said that all of us are the stars of our own little show. The curtain rises each morning as we begin our day, our personal struggles taking center stage in our very own dramas. We all have access to our inner monologues, our motivations explored and our actions clearly understood. The other players in our story, however, are never quite as nuanced. We tend to see the other people, not as complex human beings, but simply as the roles that they play in our lives. ‘That annoying guy at work,’ ‘my overbearing mother’, ‘the jerk that cut me off in traffic’: all of these are simplified versions of the actual person in that role. Empathy does not come easily.
It is difficult, time consuming, and often unpleasant to try and imagine another with the same complex motivations and circumstances. We are afraid to recognize in someone else’s flawed humanity because if we begin to try and understand them, we might actually find that, given the same situation, we might have made the same mistakes. However, we can forgive ourselves and feel much better for it, but it starts by attempting to understand and giving one another the benefit of the doubt. It’s a far healthier option than imagining that the world is full of one-note villains hell bent on our demise. Our narratives resist simplicity, and all in the other dramas playing around us, it is important to remember that ourselves are playing a supporting role.