Monday, November 21, 2005


While this topic was already on my mind (I think about it several times every week), this thread helped motivate me to post about it. So, even though he'll never see this... Thanks, Beatnikman.

Despite the surface indications that I just enjoy complaining, there's something more in me and in this blog, I hope. I think we have a great deal of potential, so seeing it squandered displeases me quite a bit. The greater the potential or the more deliberate the squandering, the more it bothers me.

We can treat each other better than we do. We can think and speak better than we do. We can work together better than we do.

None of us are perfect, though. To some degree we're all putting up with each other - even those we love or whose company we enjoy the most. So, to find a way to be less disappointed in others and to keep things in perspective, I thought of a way to extend the benefit-of-the-doubt (BotD) on a macro-scale (BotD+): What if I assumed that people, in any situation I experience or observe, are doing the best they can?

If people are drawing what I consider to be really flawed or just downright stupid conclusions, BUT this is the best they can do - at the time, that wouldn't bother me as much as if they weren't putting any effort forth. Basically, by assuming that they're actually TRYING, I'm giving them a level of benefit-of-the-doubt that would make interacting with them easier. I might still be disappointed by their decisions, but their motivations wouldn't look so bad.

Now, as you might notice in that thread, some people see this as self-delusion. After all, NOBODY's ALWAYS doing the best they can. I think that the key is to focus on the moment. For example, after a great personal loss (which my partner-in-discussion may not be aware of), I might not be at my absolute best, but *at that moment* I may be doing the very best I can, considering the circumstances. To me, that makes all the difference in the world.

One of the down-sides is that one may look at people as complete frickin' IMbeciles - largely incapable of coherent communication or sound decision-making. After considering the many things this person COULD be going through or experiencing, at that moment, though... I'm not sure "imbecile" is accurate. It may make you FEEL BETTER, to say it. No doubt. Still, it's not just intellectual limitations we're talking about.

Some people find themselves so blinded by emotion, depending on the topic being discussed or the person they're discussing it with, that their ability to communicate effectively or think clearly diminishes - for that period of time. Some people find themselves in that state more often than others, for whatever reasons. These are people who haven't learned an effective method of or the value of balancing emotion and reason. Intellectually, they may recognize this - especially after the moment has passed. But IN the moment, they find themselves slipping back into bad habits that feel RIGHT (and familiar).

Those that can see the light, at some point, are the ones that give me the most hope. The ones that never do, well, maybe they've just got some more growing to do. The 20-something's AND the 40-something's. That's fine. I'm still growing, too.

I think this way of looking at the world helps me to do just that.

Your thoughts?

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