Once you know how to spot it, “anticipated reproach” is everywhere, and it bedevils people who want to lead morally. Argue on behalf of an environmental cause, and non-environmentalists, anticipating your moral reproach, will think you’re stuck-up and self-righteous. Often, the anticipated reproach — driven, as it is, by fear — is exaggerated and caricatured: vegetarians, Monin finds, aren’t nearly as judgmental of meat-eaters as meat-eaters think they are. Unfortunately, one or two genuinely judgmental do-gooders can put everyone else on a hair-trigger, twisting discussion about moral issues into a vicious circle, in which both parties anticipate reproaches from one another, and put each other down in advance.
It’s not just taking an active stance on moral issues, though. Even passive resistance can elicit suspicious defensiveness. What’s wrong with me? Why don’t you want to do things the way I do them? Why don’t you like what I like? You think you’re better than me? So tiresome. This is why I prefer to be a hermit.
‘He forgets nothing but he forgives everything’ — in that case, he will be doubly hated, for he makes doubly ashamed — with his memory and his magnanimity.
I always wondered if he had Jesus in mind with that aphorism. And the above excerpt makes me wonder even more along those lines: how do people reconcile this deeply ingrained psychological resistance to being judged and found wanting with their professed worship of a man who supposedly embodied a “neither do I judge you” philosophy while simultaneously standing as the figure who will judge us all, and most of us harshly at that, for eternity? I wonder how much secret loathing many Christians harbor in the back of their mind for Jesus, how much of their effusive praise is merely the obsequious flattery all cringing underlings display out of self-preservation, even as they grind their teeth over the insult to their pride.