We know I’m not a behavioral specialist, but I am fairly observant and have had plenty of experience with other folk’s opinions, sometimes good, sometimes not so great. Regardless, whether good or bad, I have something to say:
Watch what you assume. Question what you hear about people.
In so many situations the “facts” are an unknown anomaly, gladly filled by an individual’s assumptions.
I don’t think it is out of line to question any story when the person sharing it, or someone significant to them is directly or indirectly affected. Stories are often embellished by those who take the time to fill in the blanks from their perspective. Based their own past experiences and prejudices, it becomes a hypothesis jaded by individual bias.
Imagine if you could meet someone, and not have to constantly prove that you are not what they expect? That you are not stereotypical? That what they heard about you is incorrect?
I suppose there are some who can never be convinced of the truth, even when their surmising is successfully countered by fact.
If imagination is the true reflection of a character, one could conclude that a poisonous tale comes from a mind with a hateful motivation. That comment is an assumption, I know.
Stories about a person, family, or event are often perpetrated by the intentionally malicious with feigned good intentions. They may have ulterior motives such as jealousy, social status, peer pressure, etc. In addition, there are those who claim that a scandalous report on a person is for the greater good of another. Outside of parental authority, who are we to dictate opinions for others?
Have you ever accepted a story as fact without question because it fit with a previously formed opinion? Especially when you wanted to believe the worst of someone? I have, and I was wrong. I’ve had folks do the same to me, and they were wrong.
I’m not going to get into an issue about modesty here and now, but I often find that people who are strangers recognize me as a Christian. Whether their opinion of such is good or bad, they sometimes mention it or make a reference to my lifestyle. Sometimes they even feel that they need to tell me that they too, are a Christian.
You might be starting to wonder where I’m going with this topic- hang in there-
I try not to visibly cringe if/when the conversation takes a turn towards those to which we as Christians are fundamentally or morally opposed. The avalanche of garbage that comes out is grotesque! Did you make that up to transform people into monsters worthy of your hate? Do you believe that because you read it on the internet?
Must we demonize those with whom we disagree? Did you check any of your propaganda for facts? Don’t repeat things just because they fit your presumptions. If you need lies and assumptions to uphold your moral compass, then something is wrong, terribly, horribly wrong.
This applies to your opinion of politicians, the other political party’s agenda, Hispanic, Black, Caucasian, Asian, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelicals, and any other group I forgot to mention.
This next one might hurt a little, how about the people in that other congregation with whom you don’t fellowship? If you go to church on a regular basis, please don’t act like you don’t know what I mean. The meaningful eyebrow raise, the sad glance at the ground at the mention of the fallen ones, exaggerated only because you want to mention how far they’ve strayed. How much of that story is conjecture? Did you witness it yourself? Are you staunchly holding someone else’s grudge?
I know some of you may want to defend yourselves- what is experience worth if you can’t use it to help form an opinion or make a decision? Right?
Yes, I’m calling you out anyway. You don’t have to have an answer, I’m asking these questions in order for you to check yourselves.
Check your motivation, check your facts, and keep a tight rein on those assumptions.
Psalms 120:2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.(KJV)