“Does a man drink a lot of wine? Do not say that he is a drunk but that he drinks a lot of wine. Because unless you perfectly understand the principle from which a person’s actions come how can you know if their actions are wrong? This way you will avoid making assumptions that are incorrect and will leave yourself open to the whole story.” – Epictetus
It’s easy to assume things abut people. In either direction we are likely missing the whole story. Very rarely are people doing as well or as poorly as they might seem to be doing when we meet them for the first time. Instead, our minds make assumptions about them based on how we interpret people’s words and actions.
To use the drinking example. Perhaps the person we are judging has an unexpected day off in the morning, maybe they are celebrating a particularly good day, maybe drowning a particularly bad day, or maybe they were recently introduced to this particular wine and is enjoying it a little more than maybe he normally would. Or maybe he is a drunk.
The point is, there could be many reasons for a person to act the way they do and we will never be able to fully understand why people act the way they do. Instead, we can return to the things we do control. Us.
We can choose to hold on judgment, we can choose to ignore our first impressions and give ourselves an opportunity to get to know the whole story.
virtus fortis vocat