How do you truly know someone? With the melting pot of cultures, religions, and races that are thrown together in today’s society, one of life’s major challenges is to find out who people really are. Individuals base many of their decisions, ranging from who they vote for down to who will watch their kids on Friday night, on the opinion of others. This is why I believe in experiencing people. You will never know who an individual really is until you get to know them for yourself. I learned this lesson from a young man named Elder Chubbuck.
Rumor of Elder Chubbuck’s horrible mistake floated around the room making my colleague’s once bright eyes stare dejectedly at a barren wall. I turned this recent, horrific news over in my mind, pondering upon how someone could make such a mistake. As I did disgust grew within me and I decided right then that I did not like Elder Chubbuck although I had never met him. I looked across the table and caught a glance of his shame-filled eyes. He held my gaze for a moment then cowardly looked away. When the meeting ended I stood up and quickly walked out of the room, making sure to avoid the disgrace who I hated without reason. I wanted to know more.
From the gossip, I heard about a girl named Ally. She was the other half of the problem in Elder Chubbuck’s blunder, making her my prime target for interrogation. Because of Ally I hated Elder Chubbuck. I made up my mind to talk to her, thinking that I could rectify my loathing by doing so. When I did finally locate her she was more than willing to tell me every detail of what had happened. As we talked Ally poured out her soul, showing me what kind of a person she really was. For perhaps the first time in my life I was experiencing someone. As I came to know Ally a phenomenon occurred; I liked her…I actually liked her! Why was Ally such a sweet, happy, life-loving girl? Why wasn’t she a repulsive, despicable, life-shattering demon? She was supposed to be, everyone said so! As I walked home that night thinking about what a wonderful girl Ally turned out to be I started to wonder who Elder Chubbuck really was.
Two weeks passed before I saw Elder Chubbuck again and when I did he still had the same dejected look shrouding his face. As I watched him I thought back to my rendezvous with Ally and remembered the wonderful friendship we had forged. This memory instantly caused a smile to spread across my face. As I smiled I realized I was standing right next to Elder Chubbuck. I made the decision before I could think, “I’m Elder Anderson.” I said to him. “I’m Elder Chubbuck.” He replied, with a surprised look. We talked for more than an hour that night kindling a new friendship that I wouldn’t trade for the world. These feelings of happiness, friendship, and content are the reasons why I believe in experiencing people.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.