Things are not always as they seem.
Let’s take that rhino as an example.
He looks dangerous, doesn’t he? That’s two tons of muscle and horn moving at 50 kilometres per hour.
If you saw that coming, you wouldn’t waste any time getting out of there, would you?
My friend certainly didn’t when we saw that image in our wing mirrors in Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe.
We’d stopped our 4x4s in the middle of the road for a chat, but he had wisely left his engine running, so he was off in a flash as soon as he saw the beast coming.
I saw him look in his mirror,I heard him utter one word that started with an ‘s’,and he and his family were gone.
When I glanced in my mirror, I may have said something that started with an ‘f’, before turning the key. Fortunately, for my daughters who were baking under the canopy in the back of the bakkie, the engine started on the first attempt and we sped off as well.
When we got to camp, I put on a fresh pair of shorts and then set off for the rangers’ station to warn them about the mad rhino.
“Oh, you must have met Daisy,” one of them said as they all started to laugh. “She does that to all the vehicles that stop near her. She wouldn’t have hurt you, she was just looking for food.”
Then they explained that Daisy’s mother had been killed by poachers soon after she gave birth, so Daisy had been fed by humans in captivity for the first few years of her life before being released back into the wild.
Evidently, though, she had never regained her fear of humans and whenever she saw people or stopped vehicles she associated them with a free meal.
So,our rampaging rhino wasn’t mad after all, it was just hungry, and it wasn’t a he, it was a she, so we had made two false assumptions…although in this case, I don’t think there was any harm in that. Sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry, and when 2000kgs of meat is bearing down on you at high speed, it doesn’t really matter what sex it is.
The point of this piece, however, is that most of the time jumping to conclusions can be a very unfair thing to do.
I’m writing about this now because I think we do that a lot.
We do it when we generalise about a group of people from an experience we have had,or heard about, with just one or two of them.
That’s also called prejudice, which means pre-judging. And we do it when we form opinions about people based on what other people have told us.
That information is usually influenced by the teller’s point of view and it is impossible for anyone to ever know everything there is to know about any situation.
So, what I’m saying is it is usually wise to recognise we can never have all the facts.
Next time I get charged by a rhino, however, I’m going toassume the worst and get the facts later.