All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
By Blaney Pridgen
My mother was a people watcher. She loved watching passersby or people standing in line in some public setting where everyone was a stranger. She would guess details about them; age, background, family, vocation, etc. Sometimes she would make up a little story about them, something they had done or were preparing to do. She would assess their politics, religion, and tastes. In this pastime she could be kind or cruel, but always funny. Of course, everything she said was based solely on surface observations, which she explained to me. I can hear her now, “Son, see that hat, well…” She would usually conclude her observations with “but only the Lord knows their hearts.”
We try not to make estimations of people through casual observations, but we all do. And we probably don’t leave the evaluation of the heart up to the Lord as often as we should. I know I don’t. Yet, there is another wondering about all those people out there wandering down the street or standing in line or gazing through the windshield. Most of all, I wonder how many people are genuinely ignorant due to various privations such that they would only get one out of a hundred answers correct on Jeopardy or maybe even none. Among the people I see, I wonder what their voting records are. Are there really that many people out there, and shouldn’t I be very concerned? Also, I wonder about the broken and grieving hearts. Will they find the friends that they sorely need? Also, I wonder who are actually capable of violent road rage and are just a hair trigger away from my car. Did I just pull out in front of them? And oh, I wonder about how many of the people I see out there are repositories of absolute truth in their own eyes about many, many matters they partially understand and never question. Are they leaders, preachers, or teachers or are they relatively harmless folk? I wonder about how many souls I have seen who could have been greater in some gift large or small to humankind if circumstances had been better, if they had had just a little luck along the way. Could we have helped them? I wonder about the victims of injustice and abuse who did nothing to warrant it. I also wonder about how many individuals I’ve seen who have been truly blessed but are still unhappy and lost.
Sometimes I wish I could see the heart of a person to know their full measure and their tribulations, but I know that would be overwhelming. It’s hard enough to look into myself and gain an intimate glimpse of what the Lord sees in me, regardless of the hat I wear and regardless of what I think is the truth.