Have you ever been so certain that you were right….and others had it wrong? You know that indignant feeling where you could almost laugh at other people’s stupidity. How could they get it so wrong, when you know the answer is so simple?
I think we all have had moments like this. That knowing our beliefs are the right ones…and others have just got it horribly wrong. Governments, Religious Organizations, Work Colleagues, Friends, Family – we can all admit to this certainty in our lives – that we have the answers, and if everyone else followed our beliefs the world would be a better place. But would it?
Being certain is not equal to being right.
Our certainty in our beliefs and knowings can distort our truth, and mistakenly lead us to believe that we are right and everyone else has it wrong. This certainty in our own beliefs is self righteous and gives us a very narrow view of the world. Our convictions are just that – OUR CONVICTIONS.
They may not be right for others – and indeed by dismissing the rights and abilities of others to hold differing viewpoints, we limit the scope of our own world and our own experiences.
The following poem is a light-hearted look at this subject, but it gives a very poignant example of certainty.
The Cookie Thief by Valerie Cox
A woman was waiting at an airport one night, With several long hours before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shops, Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop. She was engrossed in her book but happened to see, That the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be. Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between, Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene. So she munched the cookies and watched the clock, As the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.” With each cookie she took, he took one too, When only one was left, she wondered what he would do. With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh, He took the last cookie and broke it in half. He offered her half, as he ate the other, She snatched it from him and thought…oooh, brother. This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude, Why he didn’t even show any gratitude! She had never known when she had been so galled, And sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, Refusing to look back at that thieving ingrate. She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat, Then sought her book, which was almost complete. As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise, There was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes. If mine are here, she moaned with despair, The others were his, and he tried to share. Too late to apologize, she realized with grief, That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.
Can you imagine the feeling this woman had when she discovered that her certainty this man was taking her cookies was in fact wrong?
Have there been occasions in your own life when you realized that things you were certain about turned out not to be true? Things that you strongly believed in, and tried to help others see the errors in their own ways because you “knew the truth?”
We all have a need to feel certain about things in our lives because without it we can feel anxious and out of control. Therefore it is human nature to try and control our surroundings and the people within it. Certainty can give us a comforting feeling – our comfort zone, and over certainty in many aspects of our lives can make us blind to others viewpoints and beliefs.
Maybe it is time to sit back and reflect and analyze all your certainties, and make a conscious decision about which ones are indeed your truth and which ones are like the cookies – just your perception of what has occurred in your world.