We tend to see actions of others in terms of their characters. An action to us seems to prove someone is kind, or courageous, or selfish. We rarely stop to think about what situation the person is in.
Perhaps one of the most important experiments on human behaviour ever done is Darley & Batson 1973. It suggests that whether or not we help someone in need depends more on what that means to our current situation – in this case the test subjects were in a hurry – than whether or not we are “kind” or “helpful” people.
If we could stop judging people by their actions, and try instead to understand why they act as they do, it could be a whole new world.