Here at my college, we have an over-population of geese. The ecological reasons are probably easily explainable, but all we know as students is that the geese are just a nuisance that we have learned to avoid, whether it means stepping over their droppings on the paths, or blending in with their flock while walking by the pond. However, there is one special goose who has wandered over to the residence halls to make a home away from the numerous geese that surround the various ponds on campus.
Every day is the same routine, walk out of my dorm, take a left, and walk towards the cafe or class. I walk by the solitary goose pecking at the grass or standing on one leg pretending it is a “flamingoose” But yesterday, the goose had other ideas. The goose got angry. Though it will sometimes hiss when you walk by and look it in the eye, yesterday it was particularly angry. It started hissing violently, sticking out its tongue and advancing forward. I avoided it and started to walk quickly. Of course, immediately I was angry! What right does that goose have to make me go out of my way to avoid it? Why doesn’t it just calm down a little bit and stop being such a grumpy goose!?
I proceeded to class to tell my peers about my goose encounter and they proceeded to share stories about the times the goose hissed at them and how odd it is that it has separated from the other hundreds of geese. However, we soon came to a conclusion that it has a baby that it is protecting and that it appears to have loss the ability to fly. One of my classmates remarked that she saw it trying to fly with the other geese and it quickly flopped to the ground and could not get off the ground.
Immediately, I started feeling bad about being so angry at the hissing goose. I’m sure she is just frustrated at the fact that she can’t fly and she is also being instinctive in protecting her baby goose. I started to make up stories in my head about the life of the solitary goose and felt really bad about judging it.
Although this is a true story, and I made a joke about it, it was a corny metaphor for a real lesson. I realized a little bit about how we treat each other. It is often so easy to judge someone as grumpy or rude or strange but we don’t always know the full story. That person could be having a bad day, they might be a goose who can’t fly with the flock, or they might be protecting something we don’t know exists (like the baby goose). Often times, there is a reason for a person’s behavior, and instead of dismissing them as weird or unfriendly, we should try to understand what is making them act in this way. You never know what someone might be going through that is making them act the way they do. It is unfair to judge them before you know their full story. Yes, it is human nature to pass judgment, but we should be mindful of where that judgment is coming from and realize that we have to look at the big picture, not just how the person is making us feel at the time. I got angry at the goose, and often I get angry when people act in ways I don’t understand. However, once I understood the back story, I wasn’t so judgmental. In the same way, I realized that I have to be more open-minded to the ways people act, because they may be doing so for reasons I might not recognize.