Recently I watched as a herd of domestic cattle wandered into an off-limits area. My mind raced with opinions and judgment about the person responsible for allowing the cattle to trespass, when I saw a small family of pig wallowing in the lake alongside the cattle. The pigs caught my eye for two reasons: they were having a glorious time running into the belly-deep water, throwing their bodies down and rolling in the mud, and I had never seen the village man with these pigs before.
I remember thinking that the pigs looked almost identical to the wild pigs in the area. I quickly assumed that a pair had probably been captured some time back and this was the result of captive breeding. I spent no more time pondering the scene before me. I had formulated an opinion that I had no reason to doubt: the pigs mingling with the domestic cows were themselves domesticated and owned by the same person.
Later that evening when I recounted the pig sighting, Vishnu asked, “Pigs? Are you sure? The village does not keep pigs.” I’d seen what I’d seen and insisted the pigs belonged to the herder from the nearby village.
Sometime later, as my mind wandered back over the day, my brain froze on the pig scene. What I had observed came together with Vishnu’s statement and in a flash I realized that the opinion I had formed was dead wrong. Because I had not seen pigs at the lake before, the cows were already at the lake when I saw the pigs, the two groups of animals appeared undisturbed by the other and all wandered off into the forest together, I assumed they were together. I was wrong.
I had jumped to a conclusion based only on what I’d seen and the information I had at the time. In fact, the pigs were wild. The village does not keep pigs and when Vishnu recounted my sighting to them, the village man said that he had seen the wild pigs as well and was quite surprised how comfortable all the animals were together.
This single experience has caused me to think deeply about how we formulate our opinions. How many times do we jump to a conclusion based on what we think we see or hear or based on limited information? I am now more mindful of the opinions I formulate and less impacted by the opinions of others.