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We all live by our own "code", a set of rules that we feel all normal people should abide by. For instance, some of us would never think about jumping in front of a single mom with three screaming kids at the grocery store when a new lane opens up, others wouldn't have a problem with that. And I guess that I find it amusing when people lean over to me and point out a "unforgivable" sin just committed by another that I hadn't even noticed.
Its hard to live by other people's rules, especially when they are unknown. And I find that I stand behind both sides of the fence in this matter. Like today for instance, I was taking the dogs out for a walk in the middle of the day. We go down a trail outside of the apartment complex that leads through a grassy gulley. I keep the dogs on leashes because I know that I am likely to come across runners, bicyclists and other dog walkers. Having the dogs on leashes makes these encounters more managable. Plus, while I know that our dogs would never bite or harm another person or animal I cannot gaurantee this, and other people have no way of knowing how our dogs will react.
As the dogs and I walk out through the gate I look down the trail and I see a guy that has his dog off a leash, in fact, a leash does not seem to be at his disposal at all, and I realize that if I were to take the dogs down there I would be facing a situation that I have little control over. I have no idea whether his dog will react friendly or not to the presence of other dogs. I could just naturally assume that his dog is friendly by assuming that the owner would not let a dangerous dog run around unleashed.
But, and here's the kicker; I have a hard time trusting other people's judgement.
Because you see we all have different standards of what we consider "acceptable" behavior and those standards are wide ranging. We have little way of knowing what a stranger might consider acceptable, and its folly to assume that everyone shares your same feelings about issues and situations.
Sometimes, how well we get along with people in everyday interactions in our most personal relationships can depend on how well we can understand people that are different than us, or how well can can find people that share the same set of "rules". Behaviors that I might find rude or abusive may be overlooked as normal by another. On the other hand, I may do things that others consider beyond the pale. Its always suprising to learn that you've unknowingly stepped beyond someone's limits of good behavior.
How much of our decision to like or dislike a person can be based on how much that person conforms to our own standards of behavior?
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