Giving the Benefit of the Doubt
What if we gave everyone the benefit of the doubt?
Posted Nov 29, 2009
In talking with child and adult philosophers about the importance of developing empathy, of maintaining a compassionate nature, we spend a considerable amount of time trying to uncover why empathetic identification with others doesn't come more easily. Gradually, what we realize is that without keen awareness of gratitude for one's own life, the door to the pure feeling of compassion will remain locked. This is a powerful revelation and a jolting reminder of the reasons we have to be full of thanks.
A group of philosophy club members considered this proposal from me: What if we re-oriented ourselves so that we gave everyone the benefit of the doubt - that this putting one's best self forward became our default mode in interacting with others? In fact, what if we learned to extend this beneift of the doubt to ourselves - a life of initial trust of oneself and others? Faces softened; hope suffused the room.