Yesterday, I read a news article about a woman who was killed by a cougar while hiking on Mount Hood just east of Portland, Oregon. The reporter said it was the first documented fatal encounter with a cougar in the state's history. It is not surprising something like this would eventually take place since the same article mentioned we have an estimated 6,600 cougars roaming the countryside in our state. If you went to your local office supply store and purchased 6,600 colored plastic pins and stuck them in a map of Oregon, it would pretty much fill the map.
I was hiking around Applegate Lake here in southern Oregon years ago when a drought had reduced the lake to just a puddle. Hiking on a trail on the backside of the lake, I ran into two old-timers. They looked to be in their eighties at the time. They were still spry and hiking strong many miles away from the trailhead. They spoke of a small town that once thrived in the ravine before the dam was built and the lake waters covered its memory. The town of Copper had a store, post office a bar or two, and a place to buy mining supplies. The old-timers relayed a story of an “Old Somebody” who was killed by a cougar in the 1920’s “up that drainage yonder.” It wasn’t a documented kill because it happened in a time and place before modern documentation. I wonder how many other Old Somebodies fell to the fangs of a cougar in the hinterlands of Oregon and it wasn’t documented?
The sad demise of the hiker on Mount Hood reminded me of the fallacy of facts. We sadly gather facts mostly to support our assumptions. In Oregon, the voters assumed they could end hunting cougars with hounds by a vote and the population would self-regulate. The jury is still out on that assumption. We collect facts as we gather our friends, associates, and alliances. We use them to support our prejudice or bias. Facts do not always represent accurate information. Neither do they guarantee an accurate conclusion.
Today, when someone presents the “facts” to you about anything, pause for just a moment and consider a possibility. The facts might sound convincing, but maybe, just maybe, the absolute-sounding documentation that is presented as “proof” is only a narrow and misinterpreted slice of a much larger pie of information yet to be revealed. Wisdom waits.
“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.”(I Corinthians 4:5).