This last Sunday I talked about how easy it is to see the shortfalls of others, and miss our own. You can listen to it here. It's as universal as anything that makes us human. Social scientists have found the mechanisms that create the inate bias that cause us to be hard on others while giving ourselves a pass. A Japanese proverb goes like this:
Though you see the seven defects of others, we do not see our own ten defects.
This is why the metaphor of the log in our own eye is so brilliantly absurd. Something so huge should be at once be obvious and blinding to this things around us. But instead, we are blind to the log while our neigbor's splinter is amplified.
One of the things that makes this easier is "the myth of pure evil." One of my favorite social scientists, Jonathan Haidt, lays out this hypothesis in his book The Happiness Hypothesis. If we can ascribe evil motives to our physical and/or ideological enemies, we can entrench ourselves in our already held conclusions about how the world works, and our own self righteousness.
The trick, here, is to be aware that we tend to do this and to, whenever possible, place safegaurds agaianst it. One of the greatest safegaurds is radical humility, the willingness to acknowledge that we may be wrong. This is something we have done well, here at Trinity Mennonite Church, and it will continue to serve us well in the future as we navigate difficult issues, together as a community.
Last thing. I quoted an article yesterday entitled "The Myth of the Myth of Moderate Islam." Click on the link if you would like to read it in its entirety.