“This world of ours…must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
It’s really very easy to be a jerk. For some, it can be easy to be nice. I’m not entirely sure what divides these two groups of people. I find that outside of politics and religion, when someone is not taking your side in a discussion, it could easily be that they are saying the same things a different way than you are. It’s not always the case, but it can be.
Take GPS devices, for example. Sure you can put an address into some and they’ll leave you in a cornfield a hundred miles from your destination, but often they are accurate to within a tolerable distance and you can get where you need to go easily. Some units only calculate the route, while others include traffic flow data in their routing selections. Some units force you to update your map at a regular interval, while others are always up to date using live data from the internet.
I might suggest that you can get from point A to point B by going down the road to the stop sign and taking a left, or you could hear from someone else that it’s south of Mayberry Ave on 7th Street. Either way, you’ll likely end up at point B, but you’ve got two sets of instructions that are not alike! Even still another person might tell you that if you go past that stop sign and follow the dirt road the traffic will be easier, if you like that sort of thing.
Now, let’s take this analogy somewhere.
If you take these instructions from a GPS, mapping service, or someone else who knows the way, you should be able to navigate to the destination. You run a risk of having inaccurate information at virtually every turn in life, including when you are getting directions. You could receive instructions based on assumptions; there could be unknowns, such as road construction, closures, and detours. A certain amount of this uncertainty and risk can be mitigated by understanding the system better – for example, understanding that streets can have multiple names, and that not everyone knows all of the names.
“Our patience will achieve more than our force.” -Edmund Burke
When this happens, how should we react?
You already know, don’t you? Well, I’ll tell you my thoughts anyway. Be patient. Life is too short to get mad about a wrong turn. Just correct for the error and move on. Nothing good will come from yelling, being hateful, or cutting across four lanes of traffic at the last moment.
There’s an amount of trust that is required to follow directions or instructions, from anywhere, really – but especially from a device or a stranger. So be patient.
When the instructions don’t produce the outcome you expected, have patience.
When you feel the frustration setting in, have respect.
When the way is unclear, have trust.
Somewhere out there, between respect and patience, is trust. There can be great joy or great angst from the discovery of a destination over an unknown path. You get to choose how you handle the potholes, turns, traffic, and confusing signage.