On Rash Judgment
St. Francis de Sales, a 17th-century saint, described various reasons that people engage in rash judgment. For some, there is a naturally negative disposition that leads to harshness in viewing the actions of others. Some judge out of pride that seeks a feeling of superiority. There can be a sort of self-satisfaction in believing that another’s actions are far baser than one’s own.
St. Francis de Sales continues that some people play the philosopher by judging others’ actions to prove their own intelligence. Still others find passion or ambition or fear at the root of their quickness to judge others. Rash judgment, he says, “causes all things to appear evil to the eyes of those infected with it.”
Reflection: Charity is always the best remedy for rash judgment. In particular, presuming good intentions regarding others’ actions can cultivate one’s love of neighbor. St. Francis de Sales summarizes, “If an action has many different aspects, we must always think of which is the best.”