It took an alligator to remind me of a fallibility most of us have, myself included.
I recently walked into the room where the television lives and witnessed a couple of guys giving a fair-sized alligator a bad time. One was near the head and the other was close to the tail. They would take turns darting in and rapping on the alligator causing it to thrash about in an attempt to defend itself.
My immediate thought was that they were a couple of silly rednecks showing off. Unfortunately I said so and was immediately commanded to keep quiet and watch. After a bit of that display, the alligator was perceptibly getting slower in its reaction and it began to get tired. Then the one behind the alligator jumped on its back, grabbed the alligators jaw to keep it closed and pinned the poor beast to the ground. His partner quickly bound the jaw shut with tape so the alligator could not bite them.
If you live in a place such as Florida, it is not that uncommon to discover that an alligator has taken up residence in your back yard. Cleaning out the fish in the ornamental pool may not be too bad but it would be tragic if the alligator decided that Fluffy the cat or Brutus the pet dog would make a comfortable meal. It would be even more tragic if one of the human residents were attacked by a hungry alligator.
The fellows I was watching were the specialists who are called in to capture and humanely remove the alligator. That is a better solution to the problem than killing the poor beast with a high-powered rifle shot.
The lesson learned, or perhaps more truthfully relearned, is we do jump to conclusions before all the facts are at hand. It would be a very rare individual who could honestly say they have never done so. It is a lesson to be taken to heart. We all have our life experiences that leave us with a bias as to how we view the world around us. That is just being who we are and most of the time the judgment we make is a kind one rather than a critical one.
When one is passionate about a subject, we tend to react to any person or statement we perceive to be in opposition to that which we believe so strongly in. Like most of life, that is both a curse and a blessing. The blessing is that it demonstrates we really care about a given situation; the curse is that our strong reaction will not allow us to give the opposite or different point of view fair consideration. When we do so, we close off the opportunity of both understanding the opposing view and preclude any form of reconciliation.
The progress of the human species is furthered by honest debate with both sides speaking up and also listening to the other side. Strong positions, even peaceful demonstrations, help to focus on the key elements. Most often, the result is some type of compromise, which moves the cause one smaller positive step forward. With one small step following another, substantial progress is made. Violent and dictatorial methods never result in long-term progress and lasting change.
It does us all good to pause and review our reactions to situations. We need to ask ourselves if we have all the facts to make a fair decision.