Where there’s smoke there’s fire….or is it smoke and mirrors?

Today I finally met two friends whom I’ve been corresponding with over social media for a couple of years now. It went really well, which I expected.

Usually when I meet someone in person for the first time, I am a little nervous, but today that was not the case. We interacted as though we’d hung out together many times before. I’ve really begun paying attention to when I feel completely relaxed around someone; it often indicates a long-term relationship. I felt this quite strongly the first time I visited Sosyete du Marche, for example. And when I went through Kanzo, I felt this way about my sisters in the djevo.

I think one of the reasons I was not nervous today is because these two friends have experienced some serious hardship for several years now, so I wasn’t concerned that they were going to be judgmental about my appearance or any other superficial thing. And part of it was that they are acutely aware of what it’s like to be misjudged, which brings me to the point of this post.

That old cliché: “Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Sometimes this is true, but if you are going to judge someone by rumors and gossip, you really need to take notice of who is talking about them.  Is this person speaking from first-hand experience? If not, then who knows how much the information has mutated along the way? And regardless of whether the info is first, second, or third-hand, does the person who is passing along the info have an ulterior motive? Ulterior motives may or may not be obvious–you may be hearing one side of a personal disagreement or you may be hearing exaggerations or outright lies based on someone’s personal dislike of someone–a  dislike that could be based on something as stupid as discrimination of one type or another. Online stalking and bullying have really gotten out of hand and I don’t have a very high opinion of people who spend a lot of time engaging in such activity.

“But I heard this from someone I know. I trust their judgment.” This is a tricky one, and here’s the thing. Just because you know someone and trust them does not mean that the person is immune to believing gossip or that they don’t have ulterior motives. They’re flawed people just like the rest of us.

I heard some pretty harsh things about my friends during the early days of our correspondence, and all I can say is I am SO glad I followed my own instincts. I think Legba had a part in this as well, and has now cleared the way for them to come to Washington.

Ayibobo, Papa!

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