Being Sure And Being Right

I came across a poem recently called “The Cookie Thief” and it’s interesting to see how people take different meanings from it (a good song can prompt the same variety of reactions). Basically it’s about a woman who bought some cookies and a book at the airport while waiting for her flight. At one stage she becomes aware of a man sitting beside her and she notices he is eating from the same bag of cookies. Her initial reaction is one of shock but even though she doesn’t approve of his actions she holds her tongue.  

I was going to say what really takes the biscuit, but that would be a terrible pun, wouldn’t it – is when there is one cookie left, she watches in amazement as he picks it up, smiles at her as if being generous, and then breaks it in half. He offers her one half and he eats the other half himself. Hearing her flight being called prevents her from saying anything at that moment and so she takes herself and her belongings off to the boarding gate.

Later when she is settled into her seat she opens her handbag to get her book so she can finish the story and to her amazement she finds – her bag of cookies! The following lines from the poem describe beautifully how she felt;

“If mine are here, she moaned with despair

Then the others were his, and he tried to share.

Too late to apologise, she realised with grief

That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.”

…which made me think about how being sure of something isn’t always the same as being right. This lady was sure the cookies were hers but in fact she wasn’t right in that assumption. Sometimes we’re sure about something at that particular moment only to be proved wrong later when new evidence comes to light. That’s why certainty without humility can very easily lead to self-righteousness and that can cloud our vision and understanding of people and how the world turns. So it’s worth remembering that while you may be sure of something that doesn’t automatically mean you’re also right.

You can read the complete poem here

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