Admit it, learn from it, change…

I recently stumbled upon an inspirational site that has meaningful messages found in song lyrics from Disney movies, or maybe it stumbled upon me…I forget. Anyway, I must admit that I saw only a couple of the many Disney movies that were referenced at the site. I chose one of the posts to that site for my musings this morning.

Bittersweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong
— “Tale As Old As Time,” “Beauty and the Beast”

Setting aside for a moment that this is an animated movie and that the song was sung by a teapot, there is wisdom to be found in the lyrics.

The key insight in this message is “learning you were wrong”. How many of us fight long and hard not to have to admit that we were wrong? Wrong about a person or a place or thing; or, perhaps, wrong about in a long-held belief.

There is a series of commercials running right now about The General Insurance Company. The commercials feature Shaquille O’Neal and contain messages about people being wrong about the insurance company because of their past commercials. The message that it is trying to get across is that The General really is a serious and good insurance company, despite their past, silly commercials.

How often do we judge things and people by their appearance or through association with other people or events? THEY become stigmatized by being part of the group “THEM”, and we are happy to lump them all together and dismiss them because of that association in our minds. How lazy and wrong of us.

Each person that we meet deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt and we should use that old justice phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” in our minds before rushing to a judgement of association. About the only thing that one can tell, just by looking at them is that they are a human being. Anything else at that point is a guess and likely a bad one at that.

One might say, well I can see what color their skin is; to which I would answer, “and that means what?” Or, you might say I can tell what sex they are, which I might challenge in the case of androgynous looking people and would further question whether just looking at them how you can determine if they identify with what you think you see. These are the types of judgements that we rush to in our everyday lives and perhaps the most important to try to overcome – to change.

Learning you were wrong only comes after admitting that you were wrong, and that is the hard part for most. For most of us, our preconceived notions and prejudices become part of our defensive shields – the things that we keep up to protect us from harm (real or imagined). It is just safer and easier to avoid having to interact with “those kinds of people”, than to put our shields down take the time and make the effort to really see what kind of person they are.

Yet taking that time and making that effort is what leads to the “bittersweet and strange” part of the lyric, when you find a new friend in that person that you at first avoided.  You will find that you can change. Finding that you can change is the first step to admitting that you were wrong; and admitting that is the first step to learning, which eventually leads to wisdom. Perhaps that is why we associate wisdom with age – it takes us way too long to admit we were wrong and learn from it.

Take another step on your journey to wisdom today. Think about the conclusions or judgements that you make based solely upon how someone looks and challenge yourself make the effort to really get to know the people that you meet today before you make any judgement about them at all. Even them, take the advice of Pope Francis and ask yourself the question, “Who am I to judge?” Once you put down the gavel of judgement, you may find that you meet a lot more interesting and friendly people and maybe make a few new friends.

Find that you can change today!

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