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Are You the First or Second Traveler?

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Folk lore shares, An old wise man would sit outside his village under a shade tree every day thinking and sharing with anyone who might stop by to talk with him. One day a traveler stopped by and said, “Old man I have been traveling a long way, visited many villages, and met many people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will meet in your village?”

“Certainly,” said the old man. “But first tell me what kind of people you have met on your journey so far.”

“You wouldn’t believe it. I have met some of the most awful people. People who are selfish, rude to strangers. People who don’t care for themselves or others. I’ve met foolish young people who could teach me nothing and old people whose lack of hope depresses everyone.”

As the traveler spoke a look of sadness grew in the wise man’s eyes as he listened. “Yes, I believe I know exactly the kind of people you speak of. And I’m sorry to tell you, if you go into my village, that’s exactly the kind of people you’ll meet.”

“I knew it,” the traveler scoffed. “It’s always the same.” He kicked the dirt under his feet and wandered off without going into the village.

Later that day another traveler stopped by and asked the old wise man the same question. “Kind sir, I’ve traveled far and met a lot of people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will meet if I go into your village?”

“Yes, I’d be happy to tell you. But first, tell me what kind of people you have met in your travels so far?”

The traveler responded, “Oh, you wouldn’t believe it! I’ve met the most amazing people. People who are kind and generous to strangers. People who care for one another like family. I’ve met young people with wisdom beyond their years and I’ve met older people with a youthful passion for life that brings joy to everyone they meet. And I’ve learned so much from all of them.”

As the traveler spoke, the wise man smiled brightly as he nodded in a knowing way. “Yes, I believe I know exactly the kind of people you speak of. And I’m happy to tell you, if you go into my village, that’s exactly the kind of people you will meet.”

Most often what we see in people is dependent on our perspective. If we expect to find negativity, most likely we’ll find it. If we expect to find nothing of worth, we’ll find nothing of worth in people. But if we go searching for the best in people like the second traveler, we will find the good in those we meet and interact with. When we go searching for the good in people, everyone is a winner and each one goes away encouraged.

Is your perspective more like the first or the second traveler? What will you do this week, beginning today to be more like the second traveler in our story?

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