You don’t know the whole story

Did you ever see that movie ‘Crash’?

Not the 1996 erotic psychological thriller directed by David Cronenburg, but the 2004 one, directed by Paul Haggis, about racial issues in Los Angeles?

It’s a clever film. It even won the Oscar that year. Personally, I hated its guts.

The film features lots and lots of intertwining plots, like Love Actually. And its one, solitary trick – which it milks over and over and over and over – is this: It makes you feel a certain way about a character in one scene, before showing you something in the next scene that makes you completely reassess your judgment of them.

It got old fast. It actually felt like one of those films they show you at school to hammer into your head not to smoke or bully or murder. I just don’t enjoy films (or songs, or books) that I feel are trying to teach me something specific, or trying to show off how clever and brilliant the writer is – and being lumbering obvious about it.

I much prefered the other Crash, which is set in a dystopian future where people get really turned on by car crashes. I have no idea what that was trying to teach me, and yet I feel it taught me far more.

But as much as the Oscar-winning Crash grated on me, it had one thing going for it – a great message. A very important message. A message even more crucial to humanity now than in 2004.

You don’t know the whole story, especially when it comes to why people do things.

I’ll repeat that. You don’t know the whole story, especially when it comes to why people do things.

How many times recently have you got annoyed at someone and decided – based on that one thing they did – that you know what’s in their heart, and it’s a lump of coal?

I did it earlier today, when I nearly hit somebody on the motorway because they didn’t indicate.

But guess what? I have no real evidence that they were a bad person. I don’t know what’s going on with them. Perhaps they’re going through a hard time. Perhaps they’re absoultely fine and they just forgot to indicate. Or maybe they are a bad person.

The point is that I have no idea, and to be honest, it doesn’t really matter. The only thing under my control is whether I let it ruin my day or not.

I’m not saying you should suspend judgment indefinitely and let people get away with doing shitty things. I’m just saying that the first story you tell yourself about stuff might not tell the whole story.

Remember: you are responsible for the story inside your head, and really, that’s all these things are – stories. There are no actual problems in life. There are just events, and the stories we tell ourselves about them. And though it’s difficult when people do really annoying shit, we always have the power to change the story.

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