Thursday, 26 February 2009

You Tell On Yourself

by James Allen

You tell on yourself by the friends you seek
By the manner in which you speak
By the way you employ your leisure time
By the use of your dollar and dime

You tell who you are by the things you wear
By the spirit in which your burdens bear
By the kinds of things at which you laugh
By the records you played on the phonograph

You tell what you are by the way you walk
By the things of which you delight to talk
By the manner in which you bear defeat
By so simple a thing as how you eat
By the books you choose from the well-filled shelf
In these ways and more, you tell on yourself.

How have you found this poem to be true in your own experience?
Leave a comment and let us know.


AnonAsUsual said...

Partly true, partly not.

People can be very quick to interpret and judge the things people do and the actions they take without having the big picture - even if they think they do! Often what people have is a partial picture. Maybe the person whose action you are interpreting negatively knows something you don't? Or has experience you don't know about? Sometimes allowing others to make misjudgements to be discreet about a situation that would vindicate them if they shared it actually speaks of strength of character rather than what you think you are seeing?

Of course there is some truth in it. If someone continually dresses immodestly, uses bad language, etc then it is fair to observe that is part of who they are. However there is always some gold under there somewhere.

On the other hand, those who put on a good public face, dress well, have outwardly respectable lives can have hidden things we don't know about that makes them less respectable than the person who is outwardly a little 'rough'. How often do you hear of people being convicted and those around them saying, 'but he seemed like such a nice man' or 'I'd never have believed it?'

I do think we need to be very careful about interpreting the actions of others and be generous in attributing motives.

I remember being in a situation where we were broken down in a rough area of South Auckland and walked about a hundred metres up the road to a service station. The person at the service station wouldn't let us use the phone unless we could give him 20c, which we didn't have. A who looked like the kind you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley immediately handed over 20c and helped us out. I've often had similar experiences.

Clive Smit said...

Thanks for your comment Anon.
While the Bible I believes lets us judge actions... motives on the other hand are a no go area.

But I do agree, if we just take a cursory snap judgment we can misread people... especially if we don't have all the facts.