Years ago, someone shared this parable with me and I reflect on it all the time.
There was a remote village in Japan that was very traditional and conservative. A teenage girl fell pregnant, and it was a huge scandal. The people of the community confronted the girl and demanded to know who the father was. She identified a highly respected and admired elder. The townspeople were shocked because this man was held in such high esteem, and they angrily marched to his home demanding an explanation. They confronted the man and said “this young girl says that you are the father of her baby”. The man calmly said “is that so?”. Outraged, the townspeople drove the elder from his home and into exile.
Some years later, the girl, who was now a mother, was struggling with her conscience. She broke down and tearfully admitted that she panicked when confronted and, wanting to protect her teenage boyfriend, had accused the first person who came to her mind, which was the elder. Now she identified the father, and asked forgiveness from the townspeople.
The townspeople were horrified and ashamed at how they had treated the elder, and they journeyed to the new village where he was living in exile. They finally found him and they said “the girl admitted that you were not the father”. The man calmly said “is that so?”
Other peoples’ truths do not define us. We can always stand calmly in our own truth and our own integrity.