Nobody sees the world in its entirety. Everyone looks at life through filters, and there are always things that we don’t know about what we see happening right in front of us. Our interpretations of events are based upon beliefs and past experiences... and the conclusions we have made from those experiences. Some facets beneath the surface of events cannot be seen, the little meta truths of situations. Perhaps the person who was unkind to you yesterday was reeling from a grievous loss you know nothing about. Or the person who cut you off in traffic was rushing to the hospital. There are things we just don’t know.
Sometimes we define people by the questions we choose to ask and the answers we choose to believe. And sometimes we make up stories to try to make sense of what we see, or we try to fit what we see into what we already believe to be factual. These stories and definitions are not necessarily true; often they are based on past experiences and beliefs that may or may not have relevance to the present situation. In Piaget’s theory of childhood development, he suggests we all construct a series of schemata, based on the interactions that we experience growing up, to help us try to understand the world.
One of my teachers used to say that "all decisions are based on insufficient data". This is also true about our beliefs. We can only use the information that we have on hand, and at any moment new data might be revealed, or existing data proved incorrect. This being the case, perhaps it would benefit us to continue to cultivate more curiosity and less judgement about the world and its people rather than assume everything fits into our personal schemas.
“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” Leo Tolstoy