Friday, November 17, 2006

We can only be subjective witnesses

By Darcie Chess - The Daily News - Longview, WA, U.S.A.
Friday, August 4, 2006

After work one day recently, I was conversing with a co-worker on a one-way street on our way to our cars, when a collision occurred right by us.

A middle-aged man and a teenage girl were driving parallel on the one-way street, and from our point of view it appeared the girl had tried to turn into a driveway and collided with the other car, not seeing it in the inside lane.
I heard the girl's passenger shriek, "That was NOT your fault!" as they pulled over to exchange insurance information with the other driver.

In these situations, I'm the type of person to offer to be a witness, because I've heard horror stories and news accounts of instances when someone was in danger and nobody wanted to get involved.
So I stepped in, and I suppose the mother in me wanted to make this a learning experience for the girl, so I said, "Do you understand what just happened?"

The girl didn't take too kindly to my stern tone and more or less told me to butt out. I reminded her that I was a witness and I saw what happened, and gave my name and number to the other driver, in case the insurance companies wanted to talk to me.

Then I left them to their information exchange. On the drive home, I got to thinking, "What if I really didn't see what I thought? What if the collision occurred because the other driver was turning wide into that driveway, and he collided with her? What kind of witness does that make me?"

Our perceptions and judgments about what happens around us and about the people in our lives are so subjective. We witness life and make judgments on very limited information sometimes...and sometimes we're dead wrong.

A line from a favorite prayer came to mind: "God truly is a witness over all things." God sees everything: outward actions, inward motivations and intentions, and every outcome. He is a witness to honesty and deception, kindness and cruelty, righteousness and hypocrisy, concern and carelessness.

I think even the faithful forget this sometimes, and some of us may even delude ourselves into thinking God isn't paying close attention to every aspect of every life. He is.

As the old Sufi saying goes, "God is closer to you than your neck vein." I still don't condone standing idly by when you think someone is in danger or you've seen a crime committed, just because you fear your perception might be wrong.

But it's important to be willing to admit you may be incorrect in your perception, which in hindsight I very well could have been.

2 comments:

Darcie Chess said...

Wow, I googled myself and found that someone had lifted this article I wrote from TDN.COM. Pretty cool! Thanks for finding me.

Parry Boucher said...

Wow, it sure is great that even a small newspaper in a tiny town in the Northwestern United States can be quoted and read all over the world. This Darcie Chess is very insightful and right on target. Thank you Ms. Chess for this wonderful article.

Parry Boucher,
Vancouver Washington

Friday, November 17, 2006

We can only be subjective witnesses
By Darcie Chess - The Daily News - Longview, WA, U.S.A.
Friday, August 4, 2006

After work one day recently, I was conversing with a co-worker on a one-way street on our way to our cars, when a collision occurred right by us.

A middle-aged man and a teenage girl were driving parallel on the one-way street, and from our point of view it appeared the girl had tried to turn into a driveway and collided with the other car, not seeing it in the inside lane.
I heard the girl's passenger shriek, "That was NOT your fault!" as they pulled over to exchange insurance information with the other driver.

In these situations, I'm the type of person to offer to be a witness, because I've heard horror stories and news accounts of instances when someone was in danger and nobody wanted to get involved.
So I stepped in, and I suppose the mother in me wanted to make this a learning experience for the girl, so I said, "Do you understand what just happened?"

The girl didn't take too kindly to my stern tone and more or less told me to butt out. I reminded her that I was a witness and I saw what happened, and gave my name and number to the other driver, in case the insurance companies wanted to talk to me.

Then I left them to their information exchange. On the drive home, I got to thinking, "What if I really didn't see what I thought? What if the collision occurred because the other driver was turning wide into that driveway, and he collided with her? What kind of witness does that make me?"

Our perceptions and judgments about what happens around us and about the people in our lives are so subjective. We witness life and make judgments on very limited information sometimes...and sometimes we're dead wrong.

A line from a favorite prayer came to mind: "God truly is a witness over all things." God sees everything: outward actions, inward motivations and intentions, and every outcome. He is a witness to honesty and deception, kindness and cruelty, righteousness and hypocrisy, concern and carelessness.

I think even the faithful forget this sometimes, and some of us may even delude ourselves into thinking God isn't paying close attention to every aspect of every life. He is.

As the old Sufi saying goes, "God is closer to you than your neck vein." I still don't condone standing idly by when you think someone is in danger or you've seen a crime committed, just because you fear your perception might be wrong.

But it's important to be willing to admit you may be incorrect in your perception, which in hindsight I very well could have been.

2 comments:

Darcie Chess said...

Wow, I googled myself and found that someone had lifted this article I wrote from TDN.COM. Pretty cool! Thanks for finding me.

Parry Boucher said...

Wow, it sure is great that even a small newspaper in a tiny town in the Northwestern United States can be quoted and read all over the world. This Darcie Chess is very insightful and right on target. Thank you Ms. Chess for this wonderful article.

Parry Boucher,
Vancouver Washington