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FAITH AND VALUES: Jumping to conclusions

Fred Andrea

Fred Andrea

Have you ever been relating an incident or story of an event and have someone jump to a conclusion and try to beat you to the punch line? Or maybe it is a person who tries to predict what you are about to do, or a decision you are about to make.

Recently I read a story about a number of cars, trucks, and buses that were lined up for a block and a half on a busy street one afternoon as a young motorist maneuvered his car sideways across two lanes of traffic and a parking space. A passing pedestrian saw the situation and thought he could be helpful. Bending down so the driver could see him, he gestured to the young driver, “Turn your wheel this way, now turn that way… now turn this way.”

The motorist followed his direction carefully and was soon neatly parked in the curb space between two cars, while traffic again started moving down the street. ‘’Now you’re all right,” he called to the young motorist through the window. “But I was trying to get out!” The young man shouted back at him.

Next to aerobics and jogging, jumping to conclusions is perhaps our favorite exercise. But it’s an exercise that doesn’t do anybody any good. Most of us don’t wait until we get the whole story. Usually we get only bits and pieces and ‘jump to our own conclusions.” We leap before we look because what we see is usually not the total picture.

I like the story that bears this out of the woman who was complaining to a friend about the dirty, dingy laundry that her next door neighbor had hanging on her clothes line. She remarked about how gray the linens were and how ugly those stains were on others of the clothes. When her friend looked she exclaimed, “The dirt is not on your neighbor’s laundry but on your own windows.”

Sometimes our “jumping to conclusions” can have hurting and painful results. Sally Brunn of Pittsburgh, writing in the “Sunday Visitor,” relates an experience of her own family in ‘jumping to conclusions.” She said that one spring day their children brought in a freshly laid duck egg that a neighbor boy had given to them. He had been to a lake and had actually seen a duck lay it and then swim away.

Naturally the children wanted to hatch it and they begged until she told them they would try. The house was chilly and the furnace had already been turned off for the year, so the only spot that was warm enough was the pilot light on the top of the kitchen range. They found a piece of flannel, wrapped the egg in it, put it in one of the cooking pots with the lid on and set it beside, not on, the pilot light. And there it sat for three weeks while Sally Brunn worked around it.

After the third week passed, it was beginning to get on her nerves to constantly have that pot in her way. And her husband began to complain that it smelled funny and was surely rotten. By that time the kids were bored with it as well. So, in the fourth week, she told one of the boys to “take the egg outside and get rid of it.” He didn’t just put it in the rubbish as she thought he would. He took a large knife and broke it open out in the yard. Then he screamed for the family to come and look.

They were all horrified to see that the egg had contained a still living and almost fully developed duckling with black feathers, web feet, all its vital parts. And they had killed it.

How often we are guilty of “killing” someone’s spirit, dreams, and plans by our jumping to a conclusion -sometimes just before those plans and dreams are ready to “hatch.” Giving something or someone a little more time can make a world of difference.

An unusually sharp young man worked in the produce department of a supermarket. A woman came in and wanted to buy half a grapefruit. He said he wasn’t sure he could sell half a grapefruit. He would have to ask the manager. He went back to the manager and said, “You won’t believe this, but there is some crazy woman out there who wants to buy half a grapefruit.” Just then he glanced around to see that the woman had followed him and was standing right there, so he quickly said, “And this lovely lady wants to buy the other half.”

Later the manager said, “Young man, I’m impressed, where do you come from?” He said, “Syracuse, New York -home of great basketball teams and ugly women.” Young man,” said the manager, “my wife is from Syracuse.” And the young man said, “What team did she play on?”

Perhaps a quick side-step is necessary for those who jump to conclusions, but how much better and easier and less risky it would be to not jump at all.

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