It’s funny sometimes how perspective creeps up on you. When something you never think about suddenly hits you from another angle and BOOM! A whole other door opens to a concept you hadn’t considered before.
Well, that happened last week. A dear friend of mine was falsely accused of something that never actually happened. Another person who didn’t have all the facts, did what a lot of humans do, and made up the facts where there were gaps in the story.
Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. It ended up all over social media, because when people think they have been wronged, for some reason they must tell the world.
And of course, all her friends, feeling the need to support her, said supportive things to her, and not so nice things about my friend, someone they didn’t even know. The comments got pretty ugly, and I was surprised how far people went in order to support their friend, assuming that she had all the facts and that her story was accurate.
I watched this unfold without making a single comment. I knew that it would solve nothing. It did make me feel bad for my falsely accused friend, who typically advocates for the other person in any argument or attack, even people she doesn’t even know, helping people see another perspective they may not have considered. She’s helped me many times when I’ve come in to work grumbling about some minor infraction that’s got my goat. Thank goodness for her, because otherwise I wouldn’t have that awareness.
Awareness is important. Perspective is important. When this whole thing occurred, it got me thinking. I thought about every single time I had watched or heard a discussion, conversation or argument and took a side either silently or verbally, without understanding all the facts.
I met a gentleman this weekend at the dog park who had spent time out in North Dakota, and he had some really interesting information about the lifestyle out there. Things I never would have imagined, that really blew my mind.
One of them in particular was his perspective on the pipeline controversy. The facts as he understood them from living in the center of it all were quite different than what we were all led to believe, and what the media decided we were going to think about it.
It made me realize that I’ve never completely understood anything or anyone. Ever. And neither have you. It’s impossible to understand all the elements that go into the decisions people make to do anything. Our environment, our upbringing, our social class, even our DNA makes for some very interesting choices that we make.
The variations of influence are truly endless. Yet how easily we slip into judgment of each other, making them and ourselves absolutely miserable.
Of course, I’m as guilty as anyone on this one. I’m not preaching here. I’m just finally absorbing the impact of the concept of how often we do it and how early we begin.
And how unnecessary it is.
What if we just decided to accept each other as the imperfect beings we are? What if we just decided that today is their turn to screw up, just like it was my turn last week to screw up, and cut them some slack? Why are we so freakin’ stingy with that? How about trying a little bit of compassion? A touch of empathy?
What would happen if we all just took a moment and didn’t react, didn’t have to be better than someone else, or more “right” than they are, and were just okay with the moment not being absolutely the way we expected it to go?
What if we decided to love each other “despite” … instead of “because?” Could we even begin to handle that? What if we began to see each other as members of the same team, headed toward the same goal? How different everything would be?
Consider how things might change if we just made a little move in that direction. The next time a stranger messes up, and makes a mistake, what would happen if we just smiled and said, “That’s OK … it’s just your turn today.”
Well? What if?
Originally published March 26, 2017.