The Matter Of Back Story

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~Mother Teresa


How important is back story?

In fiction back story creates sympathy for an otherwise less likeable character.

We think it is necessary to know someone’s past to understand their present.

In reality is it necessary to know someone intimately in order to overlook their shortcomings? Is it pertinent to know why they did something in order to forgive them?

The lady who lives around the corner complains about everything. She annoys you to no end. You find out she lost her family in an accident years ago. Your heart softens.

A guy at work talks about his male companion. You have issues with his sexual preference so you exclude him from your conversations. You hear through the grapevine his father beat him when he was a child. You begin to feel sorry for him.

An acquaintance goes through men like you go through underwear. You call her despicable names behind her back and avoid contact with her. You hear she was molested as a child. Her life begins to make sense to you.

Someone embezzles from a charity organization. You are enraged. Then you hear he was downsized from his job. You excuse his behavior.

Your neighbor is always in everyone’s business. The soccer coach drinks too much. The room mom wears low-cut blouses. The math teacher picks on your kid. The car on the interstate cut you off. The teller at the bank was rude. The cashier at the supermarket ignored you. They all have stories. So do we. Is it necessary for each of us to know another’s’?

Must we excuse a behavior to accept a person? Or does it depend on the behavior/crime?

We are human. We have strong opinions and we use them to judge everything and everyone around us. If we sympathize with the person or situation, we allow a bit of slack. Otherwise we are downright harsh.

Is it law, society, or perhaps our own personal agendas, which determines the degree of wrong we place upon those we accuse?

If we have worn another’s shoes we humanize them, thus we show them compassion. If the circumstances are beyond our understanding we scorn those who empathize.

Our societal conditioning demands back story to comprehend. Our moral compass determines judgment. Our reaction deals the punishment.

Living in a civilized society does require us to follow moral and legal codes. It is necessary those be dealt with accordingly. I am referring here to how we allow our own opinions and emotions to rule our judgment, what and who it allows us to accept or refuse.

How difficult it is to forgive freely? How difficult it is to love unconditionally?

Ego demands back story while the heart simply loves. Today I will place my ego in the back seat and allow my heart to drive. Will you come along for the ride?

30 thoughts on “The Matter Of Back Story

  1. This reminds me of the quote to be kind to everyone, for everyone is fighting some sort of battle. I think knowing back stories, while not a requirement for us to be kind and compassionate, do help explain behavior we otherwise tend to judge. We don’t have to condone their actions, but these back stories do enable us to better come along side, forgive, love and know how to help guide them. Wonderful post and reminder today!

  2. As a teacher, knowing the back stories of my students is essential. Knowing them (their histories what is going on at home currently) eliminates misunderstandings, lowers discipline issues a lot and allows the students a safe place to learn. I am lucky to work in a small school (class sizes 20 or under) where I can actually know my students for many years (grades 7-12).
    Love the lighting on your flower picture.

  3. How in the world did you capture such a beautiful shot of this flower??! I think it’s important to remember what we’ve been taught, Judge not lest ye be judged. It’s also wise to remember that, even though we might understand why someone is exhibiting bad behavior, we don’t necessarily have to excuse it.

    • Happens to be there at the right time of the day!
      We only have to excuse if we’ve judged…but yes, some of those things go without saying. We do hear stories that appall us…turn on the news any day and it’s there. And then many of those things are blamed on other things rather than making the person responsible. What a complex world we live in. We struggle between ego and spirit and then we struggle to accept and be accepted.

  4. What a beautiful shot of that lily. Love the spot of sunlight shining through it. It’s too bad there is so much dysfunction in the world, which makes it so important that we try to understand people. As Lisa says, not condone, but accept.

  5. Beautifully written – I agree, there is always more to a story than meets the eye. I tend to be critical of some peoples actions, but then I have to think, they might be doing the same to me! 😀

    • EXACTLY! I often find my inner voice making assumptions or judgments and realize I don’t know their truth nor is it my place, and then I can’t help but laugh thinking they’re probably doing the same with me.

  6. Suzi, how utterly ironic you posted about this topic today, because just yesterday I was milling this around in my own head. I have a tendency to immediately judge someone’s actions or behavior. Yet, I remember my mother saying this to me MANY times, “Ron…be patient because you never know the past in which someone is coming from.”

    And she was right. We don’t always know someone’s back story, so we shouldn’t immediately judge.

    I feel what Lisa shared…”We don’t have to condone their actions, but these back stories do enable us to better come along side, forgive, love and know how to help guide them.”

    GREAT post, my friend!


    P.S love the photo!!!!

    • Ron, I love how we are so often on the same page.
      Yes, Lisa was right on.
      I was contemplating last night how we confuse and contradict ourselves with our thought processes about other people. It tires me!

  7. It’s funny. I usually am pretty tolerant of others and their behavior, lifestyle, and failings. One woman I thoroughly disliked because of her abrasive manner turned out to be a good friend after I got to know her. It always amazes me when people are unkind in judging me. I have a neighbor who snickers to other people about the fact that I wear high heel shoes. She isn’t joking, she is belittling. And I realize I’m an easy target. The woman is in her 40s and weighs about 300 pounds. Of course, I can’t belittle her over her size, nor would I. She’s an angry woman. I don’t hate her, but I do avoid her.

    • I find it interesting when I think I don’t like someone and when I get to know them I end up liking them a lot!
      Often people who belittle others do it out of jealousy.
      That lady sounds like a toxic person, one who wouldn’t be a friend.

  8. This reminds me of a blessing: “I bless you, release you, set you free. I allow you to be you, and me to be me!”

    I don’t get too bogged down with “back story” or with knee jerk reactions to people. I give most people fairly wide latitude to be who they want to be . . . with a few notable exceptions.

    I don’t care what someone’s back story is, if they intentionally HARM someone else (be it child, animal, spouse, or parent) when they are old enough to know better I refuse to accept the “but I had a rough childhood” excuse.

    Having a crappy childhood is NOT a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card.

    • I LOVE that blessing.
      I admit I’ve allowed it to soften me before…and then again that was probably the intent of the person. At any rate, we are accountable for our thoughts and actions.

  9. I have read what everyone else has written before i wrote. I could stand in God’s house with my ex-husband but i wouldn’t let him look after my granddaughter for a weekend and i know his back story all too well. i think we have to be careful that we don’t allow our own back story to be carried around like a cross so all can see. Do we judge others in an instant, yes we do, it’s human nature, but not every judgement is bad some are good too. I would never condone someone else’s bad behaviour because of their back story. You can always change a story as you walk forward it is up to you.

  10. Pingback: That’s No Excuse! | Spirit Lights The Way

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