The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Guest Editorial Darrell Watson
Elder Fathers House 

Know your neighbor better before speaking


A man noticed his neighbor’s ladder up against his house and saw a frisbee on the roof just above it. Knowing that his neighbor was elderly, he clambered up the ladder, threw the frisbee off the roof, and then took the object off the ladder and put it in his neighbor’s garage. Feeling quite good, he went home. Later that day, his neighbor came over and asked if he was the one who put the ladder back into the garage. Expecting to be thanked, he smiled and said that he did.

“Well, why don’t you leave other’s property alone? I put that ladder up with the board on it to shield our bedroom window from the sun. My wife is ill and needs a dark, quiet room to rest. She was disturbed when you tromped across our roof and then let the sun hit her window. And by the way, I threw that frisbee on the roof because our dog pesters us constantly to play with it. That’s why I tossed it up there, so he couldn’t do that anymore. Now he’s running around the yard with it.” He then left in anger.

Ah, the poor man—intending to be a “Good Samaritan,” he messed up pretty badly. The problem was that he really didn’t know his neighbor that well, did he? We can do the same thing when we read or hear statements made by others, especially when we disagree with them. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years:

Take time to know the people around you, in your neighborhood, place of work, church, or community. Abraham Lincoln said, “I don’t care for that man; I must get to know him better.”

Never assign a motive to someone’s actions, statements, or behavior without personally understanding their heart.

Hurting people hurt people. Rather than judge them, remember, “Thorn pullers bless; spear throwers cause pain.”

Avoid random statements of judgment and remember the adage to “walk a mile in their shoes.”

Listen more to why the person is speaking than what they are saying; if you don’t know, then ask them.

For those who are so inclined, this listening often gives you opportunities to help, serve, and even pray for them.

When an offense occurs, who is responsible for restoring a relationship? Surprise—it’s the one who is willing to offer a hand of reconciliation, regardless of who caused the perceived harm or hurt.

Romans 12: 18 puts it well: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

Yours for a more peaceful Goldendale.

Darrell Watson, Elder, Father’s House


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