Assuming the Best
The “dog days” of summer are upon us. That sultry time of the year, the 40-day period of time from
July 3 until August 11, when the heat can make some us look forward to autumn. The “dog days” were named for the Dog Star Sirius, which begins to rise just before the Sun during this time of the year, leading the ancient Romans and Greeks to call this time of year the dog days. Isn’t it amazing how smart you can sound now that Google is a regular part of our lives? Honestly, I had no idea where the “dog days” term came from. I always assumed it was because August is hot and dogs must hate the heat, but evidently the saying comes from a star named for a dog. Who knew? And where do these assumptions come from?
Sometimes making assumptions about things, or other people, can be dangerous. I’m sure some of you know the saying about what happens when you assume. At Bethany, I encourage staff to always “assume the best” about others, because for some reason we default to assuming the worst. And what is even more dangerous is when we make assumptions and then begin sharing those assumptions with others, behind their backs and without their knowledge. Gossip anyone? Hmmm…not me, of course. I just “share” my thoughts, feelings, and information with my friends, what’s wrong with that?
Well, there could be a lot wrong with that. Most of us already know that gossiping is bad, but does that stop us? Often the answer is no. Like any bad habit, we might know that it’s killing us (e.g., smoking), but we still do it anyway. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. And while gossip can damage others, it’s often just as damaging to ourselves.
I can’t stand gossip, but I’m guilty, I’ve done it. Strangely it feels good for some reason, that feeling of being in the know, or having a strong opinion that you know someone else won’t challenge. And it’s often easier to identify when others are gossiping than when we are doing it ourselves. I’m not sure if this is resonating with you or not, but if it is, can you think about this deadly disease and how you can cure it? And when I think of it being deadly, I mean it can be fatal to those who are being talked about, and it can be destructive to those who are sharing it - relationships can be irreparably damaged, feelings hurt, trust ruined. But on the positive side of course, there is...well, nothing.
So on that note, I encourage you to assume the best of others! If you aren’t 100% sure, then don’t share it. And even if you are certain, is it necessary? Does it build others up? Does it build good will? Will it lead to good?
“You can tell more about a person by what he says about others, than you can by what others
say about him.” ~ Audrey Hepburn