I recently heard a quote from Maya Angelou – “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
My first reaction was, oooh, I like that! Too often we get the same, usually detrimental, treatment from a person and we wonder why it keeps happening, yet, in reality, they showed us right at the beginning who they were and we just didn’t believe them.
So that quote is true, to a certain degree, I think. There is some merit to the whole ‘a leopard can’t change it’s spots’ thing.
However. Does that statement leave any room for change in a person? Not really. Does it allow for growth, enlightenment and character development? Not really.
So, in essence, it’s saying, do not give anybody a second chance, do not choose to forgive and hope for a better future, do not recognise that we all make mistakes, bad judgements and decisions. That quote does not allow for any of those possibilities. It absolutely typifies one of my pet hates – putting people in boxes.
Now, of course, when we keep getting dealt the same behaviour eg consistent lying, we must, at some point, take a look at that person and be honest about what sort of person they are and whether we need to keep allowing them to have an adverse effect on our life. That’s just common sense and a healthy attitude to self-preservation.
But, essentially, I think people can change and grow. Imagine being judged based on a mistake, with no chance of any recourse whatsoever. No thank you.
On the other hand, if we read that quote positively, that is, if what someone shows you about themselves is wonderful qualities, we should believe them, too. So based on that, if someone, who we know to be essentially kind, loving and generous, doesn’t display that for any given reason, then we should believe our original summation about them and forgive them based on what we know to be true about them, not on a single transgression.
So the amount of truth in what Maya Angelou said, depends on your perspective. What’s yours?