With the winter solstice a few weeks away, the northeast is waiting and watching the onslaught of cold weather. Winter also signals a time of holiday festivities. We will be shaking many hands at holiday parties and offering a repeated, as well as a quick, apology for our cold hands. As a way to break the ice, many will respond with the adage, “cold hands warm heart” …ergo, what we experience is not always truth.

This phrase is an appropriate metaphor to remind us that what we see is not always an accurate representation of what lies beneath… the core of our humanness.

With tensions arising from terrorist attacks or police shootings, assumptions are made that are costly in trusting others. A coworker or neighbor viewed as honest, law abiding, and a contributing member of society suddenly, without warning, makes front page headlines as otherwise. Conversely, an unjust prejudice is formed, targeting a person of a certain religion, race, or ethnicity, resulting in fear and virulent suspicion.

This same dictum can apply to our personal lives. Our teenage child appears happy yet internally is harboring a great pain; or our partner/spouse is giving every sign of being monogamous and yet has been unfaithful. What we see is not always an accurate representation of what lies beneath.

So what do we do? Live in fear? Become overly suspicious of everyone/thing? How can we balance truth and fiction, fact from lies?

It is action not words, integrity not dishonesty, knowledge not ignorance that offers clues.

Ignorance breeds prejudice and can cause unreasonable fear. Ask questions. Research and analyze. Discuss and parse fact from fiction.

While what we see may not always reveal the truth of what lies beneath, let logic rather than emotions lead.

Happy Holidays to all and the best in health, well-being, and peace for 2016.