Benefit of the doubt

Merriam-Webster defines this phrase as the state of accepting something or someone as honest or deserving of trust even though there are doubts.

I’ve chosen to apply this phrase to the way I treat people, particularly strangers. Especially during these uncertain times of pandemic. Humans were already cruel and rotten towards each other before COVID-19. Now this threat has everyone on high alert and it’s either brought out empathy and compassion in people or the absolute worst in people.

Seeing so many horrific images of violence and death has broken my heart and on some levels, lit a fury of fire inside of me. I find myself looking at my neighbors and people I pass in the store differently, skeptically. I imagine what I would say or do if some no-mask wearing freak starts a fight with me or anyone around me.

But so far, this hasn’t happened and I’ve done an amazingly good job of keeping my head down, minding my own business, and practicing safety above all else. I just know I have to be very careful with how I process my heightened emotions and also how I protect the core of my being. So I continue giving people the benefit of the doubt because more than likely, they’re experiencing pain in their life.

Maybe I’m overly idealistic or maybe I’m just too old to absorb everything happening around me. I feel good continuing to live by one of my favorite quotes:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

The only way I can do this is by giving the next man the benefit of the doubt. Peace.