Let us start with some imaginary scenarios to bring out an important concept.
A boy ‘A’ was playing with a ball. He was throwing it to a wall, it was bouncing back to him, he was catching it and throwing it back to the wall. On one occasion, he missed his catch and the ball hit his head. A person ‘B’ made a video recording of this missed-ball sequence, from the moment the ball left the hand of the boy, till it hit his head.
Then he cut the total sequence into two parts. Part one showed the action from the moment the ball left the boy’s hand till it contacted the wall. Part two showed the rest of the moment from the ball leaving the wall, till the ball contacted the boy’s head.
He then showed only the part two of the sequence to a person ‘C’ who immediately commented that something mysterious happened. How can a wall throw a ball to a boy and hit him on his head? Then he was shown part one of the sequence and then part 2. Person ‘C’ immediately realized that what he saw was something quite natural, the ball was thrown at the wall and it bounced back to hit the boy when he missed it.
Now imagine another scenario. Two persons ‘A’ and ‘B’ were walking on a road. Suddenly ‘B’ hit ‘A’ for no apparent reason and ‘B’ hit him back. A third person ‘C’ made a video recording of this total incident and cut it into two parts.
He then showed part two of the sequence to a person ‘D’ who immediately commented that ‘B’ was a very bad person for hitting ‘A’ for no reason. When ‘C’ showed the part one of the sequence, ‘D’ immediately reversed his comment and said that ‘B’ did the right thing in hitting ‘A’. If he did not teach ‘A’ the lesson, he would have been hitting many others.
In both the above imaginary scenarios, the impressions created and the comments they generated on seeing the only the second (or the reaction) part of the incidents, were false. Immediately on seeing the part one (or the action that caused the reaction) of the incident, the commentators reversed their conclusions. If the onlookers had not seen the first part,s they would have persisted in their wrong conclusions.
Alternatively, the onlookers could have asked the videographer “Did anything happen before the incident you are showing us’. If they thought of this possibility and taken the time to inquire for possible reasons for the incidents shown to them, they might have found the causes for the part two’s of the incidents. Justice would have been done to everybody.
Now, come to real life situations. Whenever we see somebody behaving in an improper or unusual manner, most of us jump to judgments and pass immediate comments. We have no interest, time or patience to probe for the potential first parts. We can think of the above imaginary scenarios and ask ourselves the question ”Could there be some cause for this person to behave in this manner? Is he or she acting on own or reacting to some thing that happened earlier? Let me see the total phenomena – action and reaction, come to a fair judgment and only then pass my comment. ” We can hold our judgments and take time to get the first parts and the total picture. We will then be wiser and avoid some regrets.
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Parent page: Articles on ‘Relationships’