Though we may see the defects and mistakes of the others, we have to learn to look kindly at them all the time. We have to realize that seeing and looking are two different acts. Seeing is just in the level of our sense perception, while looking is already in the level of judgment. The former does not yet enter into the realm of morality while the latter does.
Of course, we can have some automatic, reflex reactions to what we see. And these reactions are obviously raw and unprocessed, subject only to the material and earthly criteria. But those reactions have to be submitted and purified by the higher criteria of our reason and ultimately by our faith that teaches us that we have to deal with everyone always in charity.
“Love one another as I have loved you,” Christ told us. (Jn 15,12) And we know that Christ’s love is not simply of the “eros” type, nor that of the “filia,” but rather that of the “agape” which makes him love everyone in a completely selfless way, even if his love is unreciprocated.
It’s a love that takes the initiative to give oneself. It does not wait. And it goes all the way to assuming all the burdens of the others, including those of the enemies without counting the cost. This kind of love has to animate the way we look at others.
The more defects and mistakes we see in the others, the more kindness and charity we give them. And this starts in the way we look at them. The more unlovable they are, the more should our love for them be, reprising what St. John of the Cross once said: “Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw out love.”
Another saint once advised that we have to drown evil with an abundance of good. That is the attitude we ought to have. We have to be most careful of our tendency to be drawn to evil because of the evil we see in others. This can happen when instead of understanding, helping and loving them, we fall into critical, uncharitable thoughts, rash judgments and the like.
While it’s true that evil begets evil, it is also true that we need to stop evil by responding to it with goodness, kindness and love. Of course, in doing this, sacrifice would be unavoidable. But the involvement of sacrifice would be a clear sign of our goodness, kindness and love — when we are willing to make sacrifices for the others even if these sacrifices are unreciprocated.
We have to train ourselves in the art of always looking kindly at the others. Humility, of course, would be needed here. But we have to understand humility as some kind of self-emptying if only to fill ourselves with what is best for us — the spirit of God.
When we manage to look at others kindly, we would not be distracted by the drama of life in order to be focused only on what is truly necessary to us — to love everyone the way Christ loves us. And in spite of the conditions around and the changing circumstances of our life, we can manage to have peace and joy all the time.
When we manage to look at others kindly, we can do what we are supposed to do. We can have more objectivity in our perceptions of others. We would know how to transcend from our own biases, prejudices and preferences. When we commit mistakes or we misjudge, it would be very easy for us to rectify ourselves, ready to ask for pardon, if need be.
To be sure, being able to always look at others kindly will make for a much better world, despite the unavoidable defects, mistakes and offenses people can commit. Let us just be ready to make sacrifices, the way Christ did.*