Young and old gathered on the sidewalks of Lakeshore Blvd. in Oakville. A constant flow of marching bands, clowns, dancers, celebrities, cartoon characters and old men from the Rotary and Shriner’s clubs reliving their childhood while riding mini motorcycles, all led up to the reason for our attendance and anticipation. Whether fact or fiction, the cherry Ho! Ho! Ho! proclaimed loud and clear from the elf of the North Pole brought smiles to all of our faces eliminating the chilling effect of us being tightly wrapped in nature’s bitter cold. I don’t believe among the thousands gathered, anyone debated whether the jolly fellow in the red suit was a fact of our intellect or a fiction of our mind. It was simply appropriate to allow the children to celebrate a brief moment of happiness and their parents a taste of the rarest childlike joy.
I remember quite clearly when reality set in. I worked diligently to prolong my kids’ belief in Santa Claus. When the oldest woke up to the fictitious story, I made him promise not to ruin my daughter’s dreams and expectations. We managed to keep Santa real for another two years. Then it was over. We had been found out. The innocence of their childhood seem to have met it’s end. Or did it?
I was travelling in Beijing, China several years ago. A visit to the open market brought to my attention many seemingly brand name items, including Rolex and Tag watches. I thought my son would be thrilled if Dad brought home a Tag watch for him to wear at his school. And as I expected, when he was presented with this apparently really expensive sports watch, he couldn’t wait to show if off to his friends at Iroquois Ridge High. One day he came home very upset and disappointed. The arrow head at the end of one of the watch hands had separated from the shaft. He very quickly asked me “Is this a real Tag?” I had to confess. What was for a brief few days considered as the real thing, was revealed to be a fake. Fortunately, we all had a good laugh even at my son’s emotional expense. ( All it cost me was $50.)
One of the best gifts we can receive, is the gift of insight. That is, the ability to identify what is truth and what is error; what is real versus what is fake; what is fact and what is fiction. In a world so distorted by the appearance of truth, is extremely difficult to know what to believe and who to trust.
A few weeks ago I was attending an event where I had to speak a few words of congratulations. While sitting at the dinner table, a person across from me made a comment which I found to be extremely annoying. I had taken my Windows Smartphone to review my speaking notes. I had moved away from using hard copy and even tablets for reading. The Nokia W8 replicated my laptop and desktop computers from the MS 365 Office software and the OneDrive cloud storage features. The comment was “so what…..Merv is there reading emails from his cellphone!”. If I were guilty, my actions would definitely be considered insulting to both our hosts and fellow guests. With disgust, I quickly raised my head and sternly replied “I am not. I am reading my speaking notes!”
We can be so quick to judge another based on our own ignorance. Our fictitious perceptions many times become an erred but dogmatic reality. Without the facts, without the truth, we still have a tendency to judge another. Those unsound judgements can wreck havoc with another’s life.
The innocence of a belief in a fictitious Santa Claus cannot be compared to the dangerous acceptance of error. Our responsibility to each other is to “seek first to understand” (Covey) before we so quickly pass sentence on each others behaviours, lifestyles, beliefs, attitudes, intentions and actions.
Who am I to judge? I have no right to do so. Can I ever know the absolute truth? Probably not. But I can make every effort to understand my neighbor. And once a proper understanding is obtained, maybe then I have the right to express an opinion, if I am asked. But I never have the right to judge, unless I allow myself to be judged as well. Who among us then, are without blemish where we would feel satisfied to have the absolute truth about our lives revealed for all to hear and know. I do not expect many of us could and would submit ourselves to that potential humiliating examination.
The truth about Santa Claus is not found in the fiction of the story. The truth is found in the reality of peoples’ hearts. Another story was told over 2000 years ago about a child born in Bethlehem. That child became a role model for all of as we travel life’s complicated journey. And for 2000 years a continuous debate has been held concerning its historical and theological truth. No one will ever win that argument. But our human insight is a testimony to the actual and simple truth found in the story of the Christ child and now it must find its way into our hearts as well. The story warns us of man’s fight against ignorance and want with the former being the most dangerous.
Of all time and money we spend to develop skills, competencies and behaviours through advanced learning, we must equally devote ourselves to developing our insight, the ability to discern between truth and error, between fact and fiction, what is fake and real, and the resistance to judge in ignorance.
Your comments are welcomed.
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