Reading this article by Hunter Toto Maats reminded me of the way in which humans like to put people into boxes, categorise and deal in absolutes. I have to counter my natural tendency to assume I understand the moral compass and beliefs of an individual because I have seen them exhibiting one element of a characteristic. We tend to misunderstand people because our brains will take the path of least resistance and given the chance will look to confirm biases rather than challenge them.
For example, if someone looked at Cristiano Ronaldo, they may see histrionics on the pitch, attention seeking and and opulent celebrations of wealth which can lead them to make certain judgments about him. Those judgments could be fairly negative dependent on the person's attitude and beliefs. If you hold those negative thoughts about him you may miss, avoid or simply choose to brush over the fact that he has donated millions to various charities and causes around the world. His philanthropic generosity might counter some of the negative perceptions you had of him previously and so it should, because everyone is a mass of contradictions and complexities. Absolutes are seldom reality and only get applied because it makes it easier for our brains to process information and quickly make judgments.
Maats' article highlights another shortcut we make and something you will no doubt have heard many times when it comes to dealing with animosity, dispute or conflict; that the opposing side is 'flawed'. The core of his message is self awareness, humility and understanding of the alternate perspective. Applying those qualities when you notice yourself thinking that the opposition is flawed will assist you in resolving the conflict and allow you to focus your energy on something more productive and mutually beneficial.
I made the decision to blame myself and it has and continues to radically improve my life for the better. Accepting that all human behavior is something you have to make sense of you are forced to confront what you believe about what one human in particular: you. It was easy for me to believe that the people who went along with the NAZIs or Stalin were somehow “flawed.” And it was easy for me to believe that somehow scientists were special people and that religious people were somehow “flawed.” However, I came to accept that the real flaw was not in those tiny, distant dots scattered across the globe and across history. It was in what this human wanted to believe about himself.