Mistaken Identity: A Sad Realization.
Know the Facts
Today brought with it a lesson that will not soon be forgotten by me. It was a learning that has left me anxious for the morning to come. With the suns first light, I will walk the walk of both embarrassment and sadness. The embarrassment comes from knowing that I did not take the time to seek out the facts before reacting to a neighborhood issue. I acted on the words of others without seeking out the truth first. I based a decision on an already festering problem and allowed it to rule my emotions. I per normally think things out, ask questions and then take whatever steps I am going to when reacting to a situation.
I will feel a sense of regret and sadness as I am walking one block away from my home. My words and actions caused another person to feel fear and confusion and helplessness to fix something that had no clue was happening. I allowed myself to be angered and taken in by those around me and by doing so, I hurt another human. I did not harm them in the physical way, though all the emotions and elements were in place for me to have done just that. A mere blink in any direction had the potential of becoming explosive.
Allow me take a moment to paint for you the scenario that had all the colors of a masterpiece gone very bad. I live in Quiettown, Iowa, also known as Ackley. We rarely have an incident and our children walk to and from school and/or the park without the worry of some creeper coming along. that is not to say they do not exist because we all know that "bad" people are in the mix of any community. We have a safe little town where everybody knows everybody and I am very alright with that. The only real problem with living in such a nice town is that we tend to let our guard down sometimes. In doing so, we find ourselves surprised at reading in the local paper that someone in our town has committed what we call a "big city crime." Just such a thing occurred in our town recently.
Local law enforcement were seen walking through the backyards of our neighborhood about five days ago. They were asking residents if they had seen anyone suspicious near homes or entering houses where they did not live. Word spread quickly that there had been a sudden rash of break-ins and that mainly the unknown perpetrator was stealing prescription medications from the homes. Cut screens and forced open windows were the choice of entry and this had happened more times than the town was aware of. Guessing quickly became fact and fingers were pointed at one of our less desirable residents.He was unliked by many and was considered odd and one not to trust. He had not truly done anything upfront to have earned this title other than the occasional allowance of his pants dropping suddenly from his waste, exposing his naked butt to whom ever was unfortunate enough to be "mooned." He was seen walking from his house to the local store, buying a twelve pack of beer and returning to his house each day.
As the neighborhood talked and an arrest was made, There seemed little doubt who was responsible for the break-ins. The suspect lived just four houses from mine and very few doubted when the "beer man" was accused. Like hens cackling in a barnyard, people spoke of how they were not surprised at the arrest. I listened to them talking and I questioned as to whether they were certain. "Absolutely it's him" was the answer I got. Asking again, I wanted to be sure of their story. I even joked that I had doubted he even had the ambition to crawl into a window but still I listened to the certainty of peoples accusations. I was angered that this man would disrupt our quiet little setting; the trees now turning orange and yellow and red for the Fall season and people out loving the last days of warm weather. So upset was I that I no longer questioned the pointing fingers and vowed to confront and instill a sense of verbal warnings to this man when I next saw him. If more "education" was needed then so be it.
On now to the reason for this writing tonight. I have learned that acting without facts can cause the very hurt and confusion I spoke of before. Because I did not have all of the truth; none of it to be exact, I left a man walking to his home, shaking his head and talking to himself. I had been outside having a yard-sale when the man began to approach my house. Determined to step up and put some fear into this man for what he had done, i met him in the street. I told him he was not allowed in my yard and to walk away. He seemed confused and asked me why. My emotions began to take over and I told him in a not so nice way to walk away. He was relentless in wanting to know what he had done to offend me. I raised my voice as neighbors watched and told him to back up or I would help him do so. After a moment of him staring at me, he suddenly crinkled his forehead.
"Oh my, you think I am the man that did the break-ins, don't you? It wasn't me that did it. The man next door did the stealing, not me."
Still angry and refusing to listen, I told him to get the hell away from me. I moved aggressively towards him and he put his hands up defensively and backed up.He offered to show me his ID to prove his innocence and I would not back down. This wasn't me and I knew it but I was too angry to let it be. I told him when I had proof that I would say sorry and tell the neighborhood so. He asked me how he was ever to fix this as the town thought him guilty. He walked away defeated and went to his house. Calling our local police, the Chief kindly came to my house and talked to me. He told me that the man responsible was in jail and that I had the wrong guy. My heart sunk and remorse swept over my entire being. Never had I felt so ashamed and foolish as I did that moment. Those watching walked away and there I stood, a foolish man that had listened and reacted without knowing the truth. I had hurt this man and left him fearful and wondering how he was to changed the beliefs of the towns folk.
In the morning I will walk to the man's home and ask him for his forgiveness. I will tell him how I regret my actions and hope he will be a better man than I was. I will tell everyone I see that he was falsely accused and I will feel the certain sorrow for what I did. We must be careful when reacting to words that are unfounded. In a blink of an eye, we could hurt someone far more than just person to person. I allowed my self to act when I had no right to and now I will try to fix that mistake. Innocent until proven guilty was allowed to fly right out the window and I pray that i am never falsely accused in such a manner. How very wrong I was and what a huge lesson I have learned. I hope that my words open your eyes to be careful and know the facts. The ramifications from something like this could be far worse.