I learned the same lesson in two different ways.
The lesson: I don’t know.
Seriously, the lesson is that I recognize now when I have no clue about something. And I let it go.
I learned this lesson as a parent. I know there were many days where someone looked at me or my baby and thought something mean or judgmental. They didn’t know what my life was like or what my baby was like or what our day was like, but they did anyway.
I hated knowing that people did that. And I quickly did my best to stop doing it myself.
Toddler tantrum? What do I know?
Screaming baby? What do I know?
There are limits, of course. I will probably judge you if you take a wiggly 4-year-old to a scary R-rated movie or something. But mostly I’m pretty tolerant.
The other time I learned this lesson was during my time spent in court.
You may not believe it, but even when you’ve talked to everybody and you’ve seen every last bit of evidence, you don’t really know.
You can hear the stuff that’s inadmissible. You can have long talks with every witness. You can analyze everything you want, but no matter what you think you know, you don’t know.
You might have an idea. You might have a decent guess. But you don’t KNOW.
And you never will. Because you weren’t there. You didn’t get to see every little thing that happened. You couldn’t read every mind.
It isn’t like TV. You can never really be sure of anything when it comes down to it. That’s just how it is.
Sometimes I want to make other people learn these lessons. But as a culture we seem to avoid this at all costs. We would much rather tune in and out, hear this and that, and make our minds firmly up without even considering all the evidence or how courts actually work.
There was a big verdict today and the public at large is shocked while the lawyers wondered what everyone was so shocked about.
Sometimes I want to show people what it was like on just one case, not even a big one, just a small one. Nothing big or technical. Just to show how you can’t really know.
Of course when you have no stake it’s easiest to judge. When it’s someone else’s screaming kid, we all get a little more persnickety. But when it’s your kid you just want everyone to give you a little slack.
Honestly, it wouldn’t hurt if we’d all give it a little slack sometimes.