Don’t Be Too Quick to Assume Someone Else’s Thoughts and Intentions
David Hume once wrote:
“It is impossible to know for sure what goes on in another person’s mind. We can only make inferences based on their behavior.”
While it’s appropriate — sometimes necessary — to make such inferences, we must nevertheless remain open to new information and insights. And acknowledge we can sometimes be wrong.
In other words, we must remain humble — especially when it comes to how we view other people’s thoughts and intentions.
I see very little such humility today.
Part of the problem is that people are generally more interested in venting their opinions than they are in listening or learning. As was said 3,000 years ago…
A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. (Proverbs 18:2, KJV)
And even when people take the time to engage, it’s often in a reactive rather than reflective spirit.
When our interests, agendas, tribe(s), or quality of life are (in any way) threatened (whether the threat is real or perceived), we jump to the defense.
That means we often respond to situations, news stories, or other comments without taking the time to fully understand what’s going on or what’s being said.
This leads to even more problems.
King Solomon also warned about this:
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. (Proverbs 18:13, KJV)
Even though it sometimes goes against our instincts as well as the social pressure we often feel from both the news media and social media (and even our peers), we must take the time to listen, reflect, and reason.
We are not mind readers. We don’t know precisely or exactly what other people are thinking or intending. We need to be humble and honest about that.
When possible, let’s be gracious and give others the benefit of the doubt.
Doing so will help not only our relationships but society overall.
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