Do we really know?

These days it’s commonplace to judge someone based on a single post, a single statement, a single act. People have been condemned for a brief moment in time, in complete ignorance of everything else that has come before it. Who are we to think we know anyone well enough to condemn them? Who are we to criticize someone simply because they don’t behave the way we think they should behave, don’t back the causes we think they should back, in a way we think they should?

Consider the following:

We brush up against thousands of lives during our own. It’s easy to think we know all we need to know based on those brief interactions. We think we know the truth–or at least all the truth we need to know.

The other day I got two posts back to back on social media about the same person. One was an article accusing this person of some pretty reprehensible behavior toward people who had already suffered tremendously. The other claimed this same person took time to reach out to someone involved in facilitating his visit somewhere and who was injured doing their job.

Two different articles showing two very different sides of the same person. So I did some checking. Only one of those stories was true. Care to guess which one?

The article claiming the reprehensible behavior was false. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the people who posted those two articles are very open about their feelings toward this person. What’s interesting is how the person who posted the false accusation responded to the falsehood being revealed. He didn’t even bat an eye, let alone apologize for perpetuating a lie. In fact, his attitude was one of “well, keep watching, he’ll do plenty more things that are horrible.”

As I’ve said before, no one is as wonderful as their fans make them out to be, nor as horrible as their enemies claim. The truth of all of us lays somewhere in between. The world as a whole would benefit from each of us not acting as though we know so many things that just aren’t so, as though our small glimpse of a person is the correct view.

I know it would kill mainstream news and most social network interaction, but perhaps we should all go a little easier on one another.

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