Pause Before Assuming

There are moments in life when someone else’s behavior and decisions provide us with an opportunity to examine our own behavior and decisions. We can either ignore these opportunities and simply focus on the other person, or we can take advantage of the chance to look inward, recognize what we did, understand why we did it, and grow. I had an experience like this earlier this week. I shared the first part of the experience on Facebook:

It was such an important moment to witness and to share, especially now when taking responsibility and accountability for mistakes seems to be a fading response. What I didn’t share on Facebook and what I have been wrestling with since it happened, was my own reaction and thought process. It is amazing how much can go through your head in a matter of seconds. When I heard the rev’ing of the engine and saw the truck start to aggressively pass me, I immediately came to the conclusion I would find a certain type of bumper sticker or window decal on the back of the truck, I decided his political affiliation, I decided he was likely intolerant, I decided he was exactly the opposite of who I am and what I stand for, and I decided that I was a better person than he was. I also decided that after I finished giving my money to those beautiful children, I was going to see if I could catch him at the next red light and give him a piece of my mind. I, of course, already decided exactly what I would say. I did all of this in a matter of seconds. SECONDS. I did all this judging in the same amount of time it took him to realize what he did and decide to pull over to take responsibility and accountability.

So, this is my opportunity to do the same.

I take responsibility and accountability for jumping to conclusions. I take responsibility and accountability for silently interviewing someone based on my own beliefs and assumptions. I take responsibility and accountability for not giving someone the opportunity to right a wrong on their own before judging them. In his apology, he shared that he had a bad day and was running really late. He admitted not paying attention because he was so focused on getting home. I sometimes have bad days. I sometimes run late. I sometimes don’t pay attention. I sometimes feel that every driver on 93 South is in the way of where I need to go. I could have done what he did. I could have been judged and deemed a bad person simply because of a bad decision.

I am grateful that those children didn’t hear what was happening in my head, but rather that they saw what that driver did. He took that opportunity to learn and grow. I’m going to take this opportunity to learn and grow, as well.  I owe it to him, to those children, to myself.