My good friend Carla has shared a couple of thoughts recently that I think should be highlighted. In fact, not even in yellow highlighter but in blue or pink, so that they will stand out more.
First she talked about assuming. This is something I am CONSTANTLY working on with my oldest son. “Did he SAY xyz? No? Then do not ASSUME. You do not know if that is actually the plan. DO NOT ASSUME.”
This is something that adults struggle with as much as, or more, than children. We read something that someone has written and assume we know their whole worldview and philosophy, when all we really know is that there is something about the topic we read to move someone enough to write that particular item. We see what they have on their tables and assume we can decipher their entire nutritional philosophy. We hear that they like a book by a certain author and assume they agree with everything that author says.
I think my new credo is going to be, “Assume nothing. Ask.” I think that maybe you need to be on the receiving end of hurt that is born of people assuming about you to really understand how damaging this can be. We simply cannot look at snippets of peoples’ lives and think we can deduce their thoughts, attitudes, philosophy and views.
As someone who recently has gone through a pretty major bruhaha due to some huge, INCORRECT assumptions, I completely agree with her.
If I were to go to someone’s house and see a copy of Babywise on her shelf, I would be wrong to assume that she is a diehard Ezzo fan. She might be…but she might also keep a copy on hand to refer to because she is a lactation consultant who works with moms who struggle with milk supply after following the advice in the book.
If I were to meet someone new, and she asked about doctors who were less persnickity about vaccine schedules, it would be wrong of me to assume that she is anti-vaccine and into hard core holistic medicine. She might be…but then again maybe she just likes to pick and choose which vaccines her children get and when.
If a friend were to tell me that she is questioning xyz that she has always been taught and holding that teaching up to Scripture to see if it truly lines up, it would be wrong of me to assume that she is rejecting that teaching. She might end up doing so…but then again maybe she is just being a good Berean and making sure that each. and. every. teaching she adheres to actually lines up with what the Word of God says.
Carla encourages us to, “Assume nothing. Ask.” I could not agree more. And I’d like to add a bit. When you ask, do not do so in an accusatory manner. Do not ask based on an assumption. Do not ask questions as though you know the answer to the first one. Do not say, “How can you like that book????” Do not ask, “So how come y’all have decided to not do any vaccines?” Do not assume that because someone is wondering about xyz teaching, then she is rejecting abc teaching as well. And then do not ask her, “Well, what do you believe about ABC????” meanwhile trying to get her to admit to something that she DOESN’T agree with!
I know that this is something I have been trying to watch in myself lately. It’s far too tempting to think, “Oh, she has Radical Jane listed in her blogroll. Wow, she must agree with Radical Jane.” When really Radical Jane is her sister, whom she disagrees with sharply, but out of courtesy lists her anyway.
It is wrong for me to assume anything about anyone.
Then Carla wrote about rumors (or, since she is from Canada, rumoUrs ). Again, I couldn’t agree more.
I think that it behooves us to both make sure we know the facts before we issue a “hey, did you know” type statement and to make sure that to the best of our ability we’ve checked it out before we pass it on.I think we also need to weigh out whether or not we need to pass things on at all. Are we passing on that “Brisis doesn’t use any curriculum for her family” because we are trying to help a budding unschooler connect with a vetern one, or because we want to show that we know something different about someone else. Are we sharing about a controversial teacher/pastor because we really want peoples thoughts/input into a perplexing situation, or are we doing it because we want to create a stir or sully his name further?
A friend of mine is dealing with this sort of thing as I write. Partial truths and flat-out lies are being told about her by someone she has cared about for years. And these things are not being said out of pure motives but out of a desire to play the martyr. Fortunately some people are coming to her and saying, “This doesn’t sound right…is it true?” But there are a lot of other people who will just plain ignore my friend. Or they might be friendly to her yet not truly trust her any longer, due to what was said about her. They like her so do not want to cut off all contact, yet they still believe the half-truths and lies, so they no longer invest in a relationship with her.
All because of rumors.