It’s hard to tell what’s going on inside anybody.

Yesterday, post-election, I didn’t see a single visual cue as to who was happy or who was sad about the outcome. And I was out and about, all around town here in D.C. where I live. And we are — need I tell you? — a political city.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say I didn’t READ a thing. Facebook was a very handy source of finding out how my friends feel about the candidates and the outcome.

This raises the point that we have no idea what’s going on inside other people. Words are gateways as are facial expressions, but they’re not entirely reliable, given as we are not only to all sorts of ways of managing our social images but also to a great degree of self-deception.

There’s a Bible verse that I’ve always found interesting, a good reality check even as it sounds a bit sad. Proverbs 14:10 says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” This has to be considered in the context that human interaction is limited contrasted with the communion found with a God who knows our hearts intimately. Reality bears this truth out, in my experience. As much as we can share with those we love, there is a limit. We each ultimately stand alone.

I’ve lived 30 years with my husband since our wedding day in 1982, and there are many ways in which we will never know each other. Therein lies the mystery and beauty of marriage. Therein lies my point.

But how far can we go? How can we make strides to understand others? Today I dried my hair with my husband’s childhood bath towel — but I don’t know any more than I did this morning what it feels like to live in his head.

And even as I listen to his iPod and not my own, I don’t know how it feels for him to enjoy French Cafe music.

And even as I sit on the subway next to someone, I don’t know what it feels like to smell as good as they do or to be unable to find a way to shower and eradicate a powerfully ugly smell.

And they don’t know that my smile may hide insecurity or what it feels like for me to walk around with grey hair but feel like I’m twenty; they do not know my secret sorrows or greatest joys.

And that’s just the way it is.

So we better treat each other with the greatest of care, even in those casual interactions… because everybody deserves it and, well, you never know what’s going on in all those beautiful little Democrat and Republican (and Independent) heads.

But it’s worth giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, huh?

Leave a Reply