Peripheral Vision is Whacked: Why We Must Judge Favorably


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Keep your eyes on the cross, and see what happens to the images as you continue to stare at it. Peripheral vision is whacked, no? That’s the name of the GIF above which began circulating around the internet a few months ago. When I first saw it I thought it was cool, but then I realized that there’s a deeper lesson contained within it about the limitations of human sight.

We think we know what’s going on in the world around us. We see other people do things that we don’t agree with or approve of and so often our first instinct is to judge them. But our sages teach, “Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place” (Pirket Avos). I thought I understood the meaning of this and it was simple: until you’ve experienced what someone else has experienced you have no right to judge him. And while I believe that this still holds true, “Peripheral vision is whacked” taught me another way to understand this piece of Torah.

If we’re standing on the periphery of another person (which is where we stand in regards to ALL people who are not us) our perspective will always be distorted. We will lack information, see things in a skewed way, not get the whole picture, and wrongly come to judgement. God is the only True Judge out there because only God can see the whole picture.

The fact that this GIF is made up of celebrities is very apropos as the public is so quick to judge these famous people even though, in reality, we have so little information about them. But even our closest friends and family members still stand in a different place than we do. So the next time you start to look down at another human being, stop yourself and remember: peripheral vision is whacked!

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