Surfing in the fog one day I was sure I knew my exact location from the beach though I couldn’t see it. My brain told me that the waves were breaking perfectly parallel to the sand. Waves almost never break that way. I couldn’t shake the perception. When I finished and came back to the shore, it was astonishing how far I was from the towel that I knew was straight ahead of me.
I recently saw an aerial of Valley Center High School on Google Earth. I have driven by that field hundreds of times. I could have sworn the field was perpendicular to the street. Turns out it is actually at about a 45-degree angle. You could have knocked me over with a feather.
A meeting was in progress at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum near the USC campus when I walked in with my friend Lou Lou who was a staff participant. The group was trying to decide the details of a new exhibit. It was a debate about how to structure the display in a way that the interaction with the viewing public would be authentic. For example, if the presentation at the NHM caused a viewer to respond verbally, that would also cause a reaction in the other observers. This of course would change the experience the builders were trying to create. As well, the interactive nature of the exhibit would be changed by the sounds, proximity, lighting, and crowding of those gathered around it. A philosopher/scientist once said that no experiment can ever be conducted perfectly because the very participation by the scientist affects the outcome.
Many times, couples have asked for my counsel. I listened to him and thought I understood. Then I listened to her and thought I comprehended what she said, but then I didn’t understand where he was coming from. Is it any wonder that court trials last days or even months? The judge and jury are examining physical evidence and still come to different conclusions. Add emotions to the mix and it gets even more difficult to sort out the truth.
In a former life I was responsible for the front office component of nineteen motels. I worked closely with the nineteen resident-manager couples. One day Larry, the company president, called me into his office. He asked, “Why are you having so much trouble with Jan and Tony?” I told him we were having communication challenges and added that I didn’t think they liked me. He replied, “they DO like you, however Frank and Vivian at Pacific Shores do not. I had no idea. I was judging Jan and Tony on my perception of how they felt about me, but it was not true.
When you think about all the people in our lives, is it any wonder that our perceptions are not spot on? Everything we hear and even what we see is colored by our own history and emotions. Who am I to judge someone else without knowing his or her history and feelings?
Even Jesus said, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” (John 12:47) He left judgement up to God and so should we.