Who Emerges From Our “Assumptions”

I was raised in the suburbs of Washington D.C., a city boy all the way. However, my parents were both raised on a farm and so it was not surprising when, in their later years, and after all of us kids were out of the house, they sold our suburban home and bought a small farm in a rural part of the state. My father might best be described as a “gentleman” farmer as the farm was not the major means of income for him and my Mother.

Sometimes my brothers and I would come out to the farm to help out in a pinch. On one such occasion two of my brothers and I were helping unload a barn of hay. Some locals had purchased some hay and had come to the farm to load up their truck.  As we threw the hay down to them from the top of the barn they must have thought we were going too fast because the father, who was loading the truck with a son and helpers, yelled up to us in a polite way, “Hey, I’m sorry but we can’t keep up with you strong country boys. Could you slow down?” My brothers and I looked at each other and with a smile on my face I mouthed to them, “Country boys?” Not knowing us, this man-made an assumption about us which wasn’t correct. Later, my brothers and I laughed about it. Actually, I had assumed they were the “country boys”, but I must also have assumed wrong because if they had been, they wouldn’t have called us that name.

In the above story an erroneous innocent assumption on the part of both parties caused no real harm. But making assumptions about others by the way they look , dress, their faith, or occupation etc, can lead to more serious consequences. Most of us make assumptions about others because…well…it is so easy..and fun! And, more often than not, assumptions are mostly negative, not positive because…well…again, it is so fun to assume something negative about someone else. I guess human nature is such that by making less than positive “assumptions” about someone else, we somehow feel better about ourselves.

Over the years I have served with many different people inside the church. Some I have gotten to know on a personal level. I am often surprised as to who “emerges” from the “assumptions” I had made about them from a distance. More times than not, it has been for the positive. The same can be said for those I have gotten to know that have not been of my faith. I am usually surprised at how nice most people really are, once you get to know them.

I am sure that there have been many “assumptions” made about me over the years. I was once approached by a sister in the church concerning my willingness to support a program of the church she loved. It was a program she thought I was not in favor of. Her “assumption” was wrong, and after our private conversation she left with a different view on who I was. Judgement of others is best left to our personal experience with others, not to our assumptions.

I believe that we need to be benevolently judicious in our assessment of others. It would be wonderful if all of us could follow the adage of Will Rogers when he said, “I never met a man I didn’t like”. If we can’t be that much of a saint, perhaps we could amend his saying to read, “I assume I will never meet a man I won’t like.” In so doing, it’s likely that our “assumption” will come true.

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