Day 46 - Benefits of the Doubt
Have you ever considered how this idiom came about?
I looked into it, and I’ve found origins in both the medical and legal fields - in terms of the legal, the Oxford English Dictionary, it says, "...To give (an accused person) the benefit of the doubt: to give a verdict of Not Guilty where the evidence is conflicting; to assume his innocence rather than guilt; hence in wider use, to incline to the more favourable or kindly decision, estimate, or the like. From the medical side, in 1860, English surgeon Thomas Inman suggested to his colleagues they not prescribe a medicine as a cure if they weren’t sure it would work. They were to give the patient “the benefit of our doubts.”
In both situations, the defendant or patient benefits from the doubts of those who are judging.
I had a professional acquaintance cancel our meeting for the second or third time today (Wednesday, July 27, the 46th day of my blog). Normally this wouldn’t even enter into my conscience except that I also had a personal acquaintance cancel our dinner appointment recently, also for the third time. These were two examples in a short period of how unreliable people can be; I can’t count on them to keep an appointment regardless of how many times they’ve canceled. I wasn’t happy.
OK, I have to give a little slack - I have had to reschedule, too, though I know my reasons were sound. They didn’t offer any explanation, just a cancelation.
Do they need to?
I began to analyze my own thinking, and ultimately realized again that giving the benefit of the doubt is like forgiveness: it most benefits the one giving it, and not necessarily the recipient. If I can give the benefit of the doubt, it helps me to reduce the angst. It doesn’t matter what the reason may be. When these events were canceled, it allowed me some extra time to do something else - to find enjoyment regardless - and opened new opportunities. I’m learning how to just “be.”
And without this experience, I wouldn’t get to practice how to just “be.”
Life is a constant paradox, isn’t it...?