Have you ever heard only one side of a story and made a presumption based upon that? Or, how about this scenario: You’re in a store and you see a mother and her child, both unkempt and a little dirty, and you immediately decide that she’s an awful mother. What about this one–a man comes to your door selling something. You want nothing to do with him because you don’t know if he’s trying to con you, so you send him on his way.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of all of the above. I’ve decided someone’s guilt or innocence based upon one side of a story, simply because the person telling the story was a friend. I’ve judged people on their appearance. I’ve not given people the opportunity to earn my trust. And do you know something? That kind of attitude really stinks.
This morning I read a little story on facebook (and, therefore, do not know who to credit) which puts the jumping-to-conclusions attitude into perspective.
The story reads that a dog was so faithful that its owner could leave her baby with it and go out to attend other matters. She always returned to find the child soundly asleep with the dog faithfully watching over him. One day something tragic happened.
The woman as usual, left the baby in the care of this faithful dog and went outside to weed her garden. When she returned, she discovered a horrifying scene. The baby’s crib was dismantled, his diapers and clothes torn to shreds with blood stains all over the bedroom where she left the child and the dog. Shocked, the woman wailed as she began looking for the baby.
All of a sudden, she saw the faithful dog emerging from under the broken crib. It was covered with blood and licking it’s mouth as if it had just finished a delicious meal.
The woman flew into a rage and assumed that the dog had devoured her baby. Without much thought she beat the dog to death. She then continued searching for the”remains” of her child, but beheld another scene.
On the floor on the other side of the room was the baby who, although lying bare on the floor, was safe and asleep. Relieved but confused, she continued to search around the room. Under the broken crib she found the body of a large snake, torn to pieces. A fierce battle between the snake and the dog had resulted in her baby’s life being saved. Reality dawned on the woman who now began to understand what took place in her absence. The dog fought to protect the baby from the ravenous snake. It was too late for her now to make amends because, in her impatience and anger, she had killed the faithful dog.
How often have we misjudged people and torn them to shreds with harsh words and deeds before we have had time to evaluate the situation? How often have we only looked at one side of an issue without examining all of the facts? How often do we see a stranger and judge them solely upon our initial reaction to their appearance?
One could almost call for another commandment: Thou Shalt Not Presume. Presuming is easy because we can decide things our way without taking the trouble to find out exactly what the situation really is. It’s the lazy way out. But…in taking more time at the store, I might have seen the mom walk out to the parking lot and place her child in a seat on the back of her bicycle. Had I listened to the man at my door, I might have understood that he was selling things door-to-door because he had lost his job. Had the woman checked the whole room before reacting in anger, she would not have killed the dog. Seeing more than one side of an issue and engaging in a little patience can drastically reduce mistakes both large and small.
Are you misjudging anyone? Take time to get the whole truth.