Once upon a time not too long ago a horse was about to cross a flood-swollen river when he heard a frantic voice calling to him from the brush.
“Wait! Help me!” cried the voice. Curious, the horse looked down to see a rattlesnake looking up at him. “I’m afraid I’ll drown if I try to cross by myself,” the snake appealed. “Would you please carry me across on your big, strong back?”
The horse laughed and said, “No way! You’re a snake and you’ll just bite me.”
The snake pleaded and promised and finally the horse relented. He shivered and got goose bumps as the snake slowly crawled up his leg and found a secure spot on his back. When the snake was safe and secure, the horse waded into the swift waters and slowly made his way across the river.
Just as he got to the other side, the snake bit him and jumped off.
Outraged, the horse said, “You lied! You bit me after you promised you wouldn’t!”
“What do you expect?” the snake replied. “I’m a snake; that’s what I do – bite things.”
Often in life we end up trusting the wrong people and get bit. One answer is to follow the words of Fox Mulder on “The X-Files”: “Trust no one.” But that runs contrary to our desire to look for the best in people, to not be judgmental.
I may be wrong in a lot of things, but I’ve found out I’m a pretty good “judge” of human nature. You can be careful without being “judgmental.”
When a person you’ve just met stresses how honest they are, you’d better keep a close eye on your wallet or pocketbook. When someone you barely know tells you again and again how dependable they are – well, don’t count on it.
We have a tendency, when we first meet people, to try to make good impressions by glossing over our known weaknesses, actually drawing attention to them in this manner.. We talk when we should keep our mouths shut.
Two keys to penetrating the obscurity of true nature are the eyes and the mouth. When a person speaks about money, is there a greater intensity and passion in their eyes? Is their mouth set in a thin, hard line or a phony smile? Do those eyes have the same sparkle and passion when speaking of helping others – or in helping self? When they are looking you directly in the eye and trying their hardest to convince you of something, are they talking about self or service?
I’ve known both New Agers and Christians who speak glowingly of “Christ Consciousness” or their devotion to Godliness and to humanity – yet in the next breath reveal their paranoia about someone stealing or copying “their” work. They may even change their own motor oil because they “don’t trust” someone else to do it. Can you trust someone who thinks this way and yet calls themselves a “born again Christian”?
There are friends and acquaintances that I trust in various areas. I might trust one friend with my wife, but not my money. I might trust another with my money, but not my wife. Still another, I might trust with my life, but have little faith in their ability to follow through and do things they say they will.
This is not judgment, it’s observation along the lines of Carlos Castenada. We each have our strengths and weaknesses and our relationships will be stronger if we accept both, making note of and allowance for the weaknesses and promoting the strengths – accepting both.
Often, we set ourselves up for disappointment by putting people on pedestals of different levels, as a whole entity, rather than realistically looking at the components weak and strong. So who is really to blame in such disappointment – the snake or the horse, which really should have known better?
©2002 by Jim Moore. All rights reserved.