The old disease, thought Rubashov. Revolutionaries should not think through other people’s minds.
Or, perhaps they should? Or even ought to?
How can one change the world if one identifies oneself with everybody?
How else can one change it?
He who understands and forgives—where would he find a motive to act?
Where would he not?
They will shoot me, thought Rubashov. My motives will be of no interest to them.
Darkness At Noon – Arthur Koestler
I am sure I am not the only one who has this habit. The habit of thinking through other people’s minds. Everyday, I meet so many people on my way and fro work. In the taxi, on the journey to and fro the parks. Our eyes meet but nothing much is ever shared. Except yesterday. And I wasn’t even trying to meet eyes.
I sat in the taxi with my earphones plugged in. I was waiting for the taxi to fill and while it did, I would listen to some music or sermons. Unfortunately, the headset was acting up and so I was fidgeting with the phone. This is when she tapped me.
She was probably in her late fourties. Her dark skin looked rough and slightly wrinkled. She was about my height, a mother of some children, perhaps. She’s not the kind of person I would judge. However she’s not the kind of person I would engage. Not that I engage many people outside social events. Even at social events I prefer going with people to tether myself to.
We entered the taxi together, I remembered. I sat one seat ahead of her. Tinkering with my phone, the voice came and then the arm that quickly handed over something;
“Hello, do you have internet?” As she handed over a leaflet.
I thought to myself, “What ISPs are now marketing in taxis? I need to shorten this conversation immediately, I have no complaint with my ISP.”
“Yes, I do”. I answered.
“In that case, please check out this site for any questions you might have about life.” She showed me the web address and I immediately realised what this was about.
Something like a reflex action on the part of my mind jumped in. I did not want to hear about this because I had something better than what she was offering. In less than 2 minutes I was able to successfully prove to this lady that I did not need her direction or that website.
For a moment I felt content and accomplished and then my soul sunk a bit. I asked myself “What if I had listened, and shared with her longer, and more intimately my reasons for rejecting her offer?” I realised my knee-jerk reaction because of the initials I saw on the leaflet could have prevented a more beneficial exchange.
I did not get to know her motives. She probably never understood mine. In a self preserving moment, I stopped all means of identifying with her and sharing what I knew. I shot her. I regretted for a second although the next I knew there was no crying over spilt milk.
I realised my actions were more self-ish than selfless as are many of ours today. I ask myself today, how can I really hope to change the world if I presume everyone’s actions? If I think through other people’s minds. If I have no time to understand them?
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Peace and Christ Love.