Saturday, July 20, 2013

Be Slow to Judge

 Having a close relationship with another person doesn't mean we know that person. On the page of the Catholic Times devoted to spirituality, the columnist wants us to consider a flaw in the thinking of many of us: because we are close to someone we also tend to think we know the person. What do we really know, he asks, about the persons we know best?

The columnist tells us about a trip he made to his hometown with a number of priest friends. It was a remote fishing village and one of the villagers, who was closer to the columnist than to his own brother, came with a car to escort them to the village. On arriving at his house they quickly unpacked, put on comfortable clothes, and went out to some rocks overlooking the ocean. The scene was beautiful, and they became engrossed in pleasant chatting. Pyong Cheol, who had escorted them to the village and brought them to this spot on the ocean, suddenly said it was in this place that he caught over ten octopuses.

The columnist, thinking that Pyong Cheol was showing off in front his friends, said, "That's a whopper of a tale! You never know what's possible, even when surrounded by mountains. Are you saying  you know these waters like the women divers of Jejudo?"

Pyong Cheol, greatly surprised, said, "Is that the kind of person you take me to be? If I go  into the water and come back with two octopuses, what will you say?"

"If you can do that during my stay here, I will do anything you want, and if you don't catch any, you buy us our meal tonight."

Since the columnist already had decided to buy Pyong Cheol the meal that evening, for his kindness in picking them up, he couldn't lose the bet, whatever the outcome. The priests on hearing the terms of the bet responded with laughter and applause. 

Pyong Cheol  took off his upper garments, moved his body with a few light movements and splashed his way into the calm waters of the ocean, which at that point were not deep. The group sat looking at what would transpire, chatting about what would be eaten that evening, and enjoying the ocean breeze and the sun.  

Shortly, Pyong Cheol, off at a distance, came walking toward them, holding two octopuses, one in each hand. Catching octopuses with your bare hands is no easy task, but two of them! They all marveled at the feat. Pyong Cheol lived in an mountainous area quite a distance from the ocean, raising pigs. Who would have thought he would know how to catch octopus, the columnist wondered, which brought to mind the thought that one never can know another no matter how close we may be to that person. 

The priests gave Pyong Cheol a round of applause, and one of  them went to a nearby store to buy some hot pepper sauce and vinegar, prior  to enjoying the meal and ribbing the columnist on his bet with Pyong Cheol, who said he would telephone him the next day on what he wanted done.

The next day his friend's wife sent him a text message telling him that her husband was thinking of having him clean the pig pens, but thought it would not be proper to have a priest do such work. The wife then said, laughing, that her husband had excused him from the bet.

The columnist said he had learned a good lesson, and that he would be slow in the future to jump to conclusions, thinking that because he knows a person, he would  know what that person would do.

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