While reading Bodyguard of Lies over the last few months, I came across a few interesting quotes that I wrote down. This one came from a chapter titled “The Breakout” from Volume 2:
. . . the deep distrust (Hitler) already felt for mankind in general, and for General Staff Corps officers and generals in particular, now became profound hatred. A by-product of the sickness from which he suffered is that it imperceptibly destroys the powers of moral judgment; in his case what had been hardness became cruelty, while a tendency to bluff became plain dishonesty. He often lied without hesitation and assumed that others lied to him. He believed no one any more. It had already been difficult enough dealing with him; it now became a torture that grew steadily worse from month to month. He frequently lost all self-control and his language grew increasingly violent.
When reading this, I found it interesting that Hitler’s moral degradation in the last months of his leadership of Nazi Germany led him to see his own faults in others. To emphasize from the quote above:
He often lied without hesitation and assumed that others lied to him.
If you know you’re not trustworthy, you’re likely to mistrust others. This, of course, is simply judging people for the major flaw that you can’t see in yourself. As the Apostle Paul so bluntly suggested in his letter to the church in Rome:
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (Romans 2:1 ESV)
Interestingly, I think there’s benefit in turning this concept upside-down. Instead of judging those around us for the faults we know we have in ourselves, we can look for the good and wholesome and profitable things that God is doing in us. As we lean on His grace to do the work we can’t do ourselves (see Psalm 53:3), we may just realize that God is doing something similar in the imperfect people we come across each day.