explanations in charity.

“From 15 to 18 is an age at which one is very sensitive to the sins of others, as I know from recollections of myself. At that age you don’t look for what is hidden. It is a sign of maturity not to be scandalized and to try to find explanations in charity.”
-Flannery O'Connor

While it has a certain touchy-feely niceness to it, I declare the practice of finding explanations in charity to be logically sound. So, if someone cuts you off in traffic, you can yell and holler and call that guy a jerk. It's very easy to assume that because that guy cut you off, then he is just a jerk all-around. He is not a nice man, not even his dog likes him, he will probably die alone. Or you can find an explanation in charity, like he is hurrying to his wife at the hospital, or he's distracted because he just got some really horrible news.

Now, which way you choose to feel about it makes no difference to the guy whatsoever. He is off in his car, in his thoughts, maybe cutting other people off, too. He can't hear you call him a jerk. So you can pick the one that makes you feel grumpy and generally hateful to your fellow man, or you can let it go and hope that whatever situation is making him behave that way goes away before he causes an accident. Advanced users can even feel grateful that they are not having whatever kind of day makes you cut people off in traffic. I can't imagine ever being that zen. I'm just trying to not let people who cut me off ruin my day. Bad moods are contagious, but you can always work on boosting your immunity.

But hey, it works the other way, too. Because someday, you will have a crappy crappy day. Your wife will be in the hospital or you will get some terrible news or maybe you'll just oversleep and miss your morning cup of coffee. You will give other people reason to believe that you are a jerk. You should hope that they are practicing in explanations in charity for you.

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