perception is reality
I've got a good group of friends that I've been friends with for 15 years, plus or minus a few. We all get along well and don't have any problem speaking our minds with one another. Something happened with these guys recently that really cemented for me… the only reality we believe in is our own.
Now what the heck does that mean? That if we think something, it must be true. If we don't remember it, it must not have happened. If we feel sure, then it must be right. And the way you just understood the other person's words, has to be the way they meant them.
Case in point. My friend (from above mentioned group) is a high school teacher and the senior class decided to dedicate the yearbook to him. Pretty cool, eh? His wife tells me and another friend about the dedication and how they're going to do a surprise presentation at the school. The wife gathers up some pictures for the media presentation and asked for some pics from me. She figures out a time to come over without him and we scan all the pictures and send them off to the yearbook staff. All's well, right?
No. In the intervening weeks, my best friend tells Jon, "Congratulations. I hear you got the yearbook dedicated to you." Michelle denies this in order to try and keep it a surprise for him and he believes her with some small level of doubt. Meantime, Michelle and Rachelle are sure I told my friend who in turn spilled the beans.
"Did you tell George? You did, didn't you"
"No. I don't remember telling him. At least I don't think I did."
With my memory, I've burned myself enough to leave myself an out. I realize that the possibility may exist that I told him, even though I have no memory of it. So I leave myself an out.
Well, he gets the dedication and they show the media and they have a nice ceremony and Michelle and Rachelle both get choked up. At lunch that weekend, Michelle says "So I found out what happened. George's wife, Tracy does some work for the school and she found out and told George."
a: "So I 'm innocent."
m: "Yes, but when you said 'at least I don't think I don't,' I thought that meant you did it."
r: "I didn't hear any of that, I just thought you told him."
See? I thought I was being nice by allowing for other possibilities than "I didn't tell him." And the exact opposite happened… it was taken as an admission of guilt. And a third person just simply believed I told, so it must have been true.
Everyone is so sure that their perception of the situation is correct… no room exists for alternate possibilities. I include myself in this question… do we really think so highly of our own abilities to precieve meaning and situation and character that we can be so sure that we understand the complete truth of a situation? I don't think anyone would say, "Why, yes I do, Arnold," and yet I think most of us carry on as if we do.
I think there really is something to be said about giving others the benefit of the doubt. And it's infinitely better to ask questions than make judgements. I want to ask a friend about something once and believe their answer the first time. I want to believe that people I care about want nothing but good things for me. I want to assume the best of someone and not assume the worst automatically. And most of all, I want to have patience for people that dont think like me. That's my prayer today.