People… scrutinize the greatest and the noblest for their faults, and mock any weakness they perceive, or imagine they perceive, in them. Do shortcomings in others justify shortcomings in ourselves? “Physician,” Jesus said, quoting an ancient proverb, “heal thyself!” (Luke 4:23).
People fear to acknowledge greatness in others, because subconsciously they feel that if they were to acknowledge true greatness (not tinseled fame), they would be forced to recognize their own potential greatness. This prospect, to most of them, is frightening! Far more comforting is it to view everyone and everything condescendingly, as if from the top of whatever little mound of achievement they themselves have managed to climb. “Sure, I know old Sam,” they’ll say; “People think well of him. But” (laughing) “have you ever seen him on the golf course? What a duffer!” Wouldn’t it be better to admire Sam for his virtues than to denigrate him for his shortcomings? What have a person’s superficial characteristics to do with his true character? Why not admire virtue of any kind open-heartedly? By denying greatness in others, we deny the potential for it in ourselves.
(pgs. 226-227, The Promise of Immortality by Swami Kriyananda)