A teacher I knew long ago, told a story of an incident that happened to her. A student of hers went home and told his parents that the teacher had displayed her underwear in class for all to see–she’d done so publicly and proudly and it was no accident.
His parents were understandably horrified. How could someone like that be teaching in their pricey private school? She needed to be removed from the classroom immediately! They went directly to the principal demanding that she be fired. Now.
The student had not lied. He’d told the truth. But his version of the truth wasn’t exactly faithful to the reality. His parents would have been better served to have gotten their facts straight first.
It turned out that the teacher had indeed shown her underwear. She’d brought in garments from a middle Eastern country because the class was studying the middle East. She asked for a volunteer to slip on the white cotton tunic and white cotton pants, over their own clothing, to demonstrate what a garment from that region of the world looks like. Then she’d explained to the class that, where this garment came from, the white cotton pants would have also served as the person’s undergarment because underwear wasn’t a known thing there. And so this middle school student ran home and told his parents that his geography teacher had shown the class her underwear. And yes, she’d shown a garment to the class that belonged to her and it would have been designed to serve as underwear, or as close as that people came to underwear, but in no way did that student’s statement mean what his parents understood it to mean. They’d heard a part of the story, distorted to make the teacher sound horrible.
I don’t like to talk too much about politics, but it seems impossible to escape these days. I see people on both sides of the various issues posting angry tirades online. The vast majority strike me as similar to that set of parents. They rise up, angry, feeling totally justified in calling down justice for what’s happened, but they haven’t taken the time first to get the full story. They don’t want to look for the truth. They are sure they have it already. They fully trust their source and don’t even consider that the source may have a viewpoint that’s not giving them the full story. They love (or hate) someone (or a group of someones) involved and that’s all they need to know to believe the worst. They insult those who don’t agree with them and vow revenge and don’t wait to get the facts straight first. And in doing so, they are generally off-base more than they realize. On both sides.