2016 began with a false positive.
I fell out with a friend. I know why and yet I don’t.
Have you ever wondered about the term “false positive”? I won’t delve into the nitty-gritty of the phrase but it means simply this: when everything shows that a situation is a certain way when actually it is not. If you are a sceptic and believe that everything is black and white, well, heads up. The term false positive is used in science. They call it an error in data reporting. So lay your views aside for a while.
I’ve found quite a few false positive situations in my interactions with people. Our very nature as human beings allows for so many grey areas that we are wont to make decisions, usually hasty, to the detriment of the very things and people we care about.
Fans of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice love Elizabeth Bennet’s character. She’s decisive, opinionated and isn’t easily fazed. She stands up to Mr. Darcy and the dreadfully arrogant Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She is a perfect foil to their pride. But what about Jane Bennet? Sweet Jane who finds fault in no one and cannot be firm when doubt is to be cast on a person’s character. We wish that she would make up her mind already.
But I like Jane for one reason. Impossible as it may seem because of her magnanimity, when Eliza challenges her about how two men could both be right, Jane acknowledges the false positives in the web of relationships. For if Mr. Wickham was right, that would make Mr. Darcy dishonest. This, however, is difficult to believe because Mr. Darcy’s pride wouldn’t allow him to be anything but a gentleman of his word. But if Mr. Darcy was wrong, then that would make Mr. Wickham the worst liar of all, which Eliza finds to be impossible because Mr. Wickham’s countenance is truth itself.
A perfect example of a seemingly irreconcilable situation. Who is wrong? Who is right?
But as fans of Austen know, the truth isn’t one or the other. It is somewhere in between. And this is what Jane says, even though at that time she has no idea what is true and what isn’t:
“They have both been deceived, I dare say, in some way or other, of which we can form no idea. Interested people have perhaps misrepresented each to the other. It is, in short, impossible for us to conjecture the causes or circumstances which may have alienated them, without actual blame on either side.” [Austen: Pride and Prejudice. Penguin Popular Classics, p. 69]
Perhaps you have, at one time or another, felt that even though you messed up, you were still misunderstood. And that the consequences did not fit the crime because it was for the wrong crime that you were being punished. And sometimes, we wish to be able to explain and extricate ourselves from the messy situation. But then that would bring in other parties we’ve sworn to protect with our silence.
No, what is true is true. It may just not be right at the time that it is being said. And most times, it is because of what we already demand and believe to be true in our minds. False positives can be initially frightening. Medically, you could get a false positive test result for cancer and HIV – which are certainly no trifling diseases. But take a deep breath when you find yourself in a confusing situation. Good friends are hard to come by so don’t drop them all together because of a mere misunderstanding and don’t be too hard on them. Find out what is true and what isn’t. Listen to your friend. Get their perspective. For it may be nothing at all. Yes, my friend, you know I am talking to you! Will you forgive me?
Perspective. The way I see it. The way you see it. It all depends from where you are looking. So as you read what I write, try to see it as I do and let me know how you see it, too.
Because it will be me saying it from a certain perspective.
Happy New Year, friends!