Benefit of the doubt is an old-fashioned expression. My mom used it when I got on my high horse about what someone else should or shouldn’t be doing. That happened fairly often because I had strong opinions about how things ought to be done.
When I was about 12, I overheard Mom telling Grandma that I didn’t suffer fools gladly. She was right. And it couldn’t have been otherwise because, back then, I had a very limited perspective of life and why we’re here.
Now that I’m 75…
As I get older, life seems less simple, less black-and-white. There are nuances. There are unknowns. There are unknowables. There’s a bigger picture.
I’ve had many years to pull together my understanding of the bigger picture. The way I see it, the life I’m living now is one step on a long journey to expand my soul’s repertoire of experiences.
A human life is short, even for those who live the longest. There isn’t time to be a king, a beggar, a criminal, an adventurer, a slave, a slave owner, a teacher, a performer, a politician, and who knows what else.
Yet each of those roles provides a soul with unique learning experiences. All of this learning, over time, expands that soul’s understanding—because once something is learned, it can’t be unlearned.
I’ve felt in this lifetime that my job is to uncover those learnings, many of which are buried deep in my subconscious. I’ve been able to do this by increasing my awareness of patterns that show up in my life and then releasing that dysfunctional energy.
In that context…
In the context of that bigger picture, the actions of others can be interpreted differently than they would have been by my 12-year-old self.
And certainly, the past few years have provided me with more than enough challenges to moderate my perception of others—particularly politicians and everyday folks as they navigate the social and logistical demands of a pandemic.
In both cases, it is so easy to judge them harshly when their actions don’t dovetail with my opinions as to what they should do. (My 12-year-old still likes to show her authority at times.)
But my advantage now is that I can access a broader perspective. Suppose the politician who is “such a jerk“ is simply playing a role that he took on before entering this life to gain certain experience? What if that is also true of the citizen who refuses to participate in wearing masks—playing a role to help us all get clear about what is important to us and where our bottom line is.
Playing with the idea…
I realize that many people don’t share my understanding of why we’re here. But anybody can play with that idea. If it were true that we’re here at this time for a particular experience, how would that change your response to the actions of others?
Would you be able to give them the benefit of the doubt?