When I was growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, my dad listened to talk radio on KRMG. On occasion, when I was not staring out the window dreaming of hitting three home runs in a World Series game, I would tune into the talking voice blaring from the speakers of my dad’s 1966 Mustang.
There was one particular voice I enjoyed much more than others. Paul Harvey taught me every story had a backstory and surprise, if only we were patient enough to listen for it. He told of kings, presidents, authors, missionaries, and many other famous people who had influenced the world. As he closed each segment, he would end it with his signature catch phrase, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
This past week, one of my mentors, Dr. Roger Olson (Professor of Theology, George Truett Theological Seminary), wrote an interesting article about selective memory in religious history books. He pointed out that many history books exclude “the rest of the story” when it comes to historical figures. We baptize history in many cases, retelling it to suit our desired arguments. History, like life, is a messy endeavor doomed to be misjudged if not assessed from many different vantage points.
Even when it comes to life, we often forget there is a “rest of the story.” We like to jump to conclusions, render skewed judgments, and voice opinions before truly knowing the full measure of a person or their story. We have turned into a culture that does not take time to listen, time to ingest, or time to walk around in someone else’s shoes. We often jump ahead of ourselves to render the credibility of someone and their situation based upon our own preconceived ideas and limited knowledge about the circumstances.
The disciples asked Jesus one time, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Their question reveals the cultural and religious bias the disciples possessed. They believed the man’s predicament was brought about by his own personal sin or the sins of his parents. Jesus tells them they misjudged the situation and the man. In other words, they did not know the rest of the story.
In a world where people have unique and personal narratives that demonstrate the worst and best of humanity, we would be wise to listen before we jump to conclusions. We would do well to research and discover all perspectives before drawing conclusions based upon selective knowledge. Or, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Now that we know the rest of the story,” maybe we can be understanding and empathetic to other’s circumstances. We will not always agree, but maybe we can speak with a little less venom. More than anything these days we need more listening and understanding; and less of biased and unfiltered opinions. Before we speak, before we judge, let’s make sure to get “the rest of the story!”