Today’s Daily Stoic journaling prompt:
Will I give people the benefit of the doubt?
The associated entry in The Daily Stoic is about not assuming malice as a first reaction, and this is something I absolutely practice in the absence of further information. However, there is a balance here about trust. If a person’s actions have repeatedly demonstrated untrustworthiness, while you can still give them the benefit of the doubt as to their intentions, doing so does not obligate you to trust them.
Evening: It’s an interesting coincidence that today, I was filling the role of Grammarian for my evening Toastmasters club. The theme was “Gratitude”, and I picked “magnanimous” as the Word of the Day. It’s derived from the Latin roots for “great” and “soul”, meaning generous or forgiving, especially towards a rival or someone with less power. A magnanimous person certainly does strive to give others the benefit of the doubt. I am also reminded of a quote: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” I think that second one is particularly apt, because even when you are dealing with someone who is untrustworthy, or even someone who is malicious, you can always treat them with kindness. That does not mean you need to be a doormat–just that descending to match the level of a vindictive person will not satisfy your soul, or increase the amount of kindness in the world–it will make it worse.
But–as always–the challenge: Can I truly do this for someone who has, in the past, hurt me? That, luckily, is a short list of people, mostly because I have a real challenge carrying a grudge for more than a few days, and usually my response to such people is simply to not let them take up space in my thoughts. What would I do if I met up with the woman who bullied me in my previous job? That’s been fifteen years ago. I think I could be kind, but I certainly would not extend my trust to her.
I am thumbing through the Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta, which arrived today from Belgium (just 16 days after I ordered it). It’s much smaller than I expected it to be, (the original was just 16.6 cm x 12.4 cm) which makes the amazing calligraphy in it that more amazing. One of the things I did not realize is that it includes a few pages on black parchment. I was also stunned, to see amongst the flowers, insects, the occasional small mammal, and fruits illustrated in its pages a tomato–less than 50 years after it was introduced to Europe as an edible foodstuff, and before it was adopted as food by the majority of the continent. It was certainly admired as an ornamental plant before that time, however. I’m looking forward to using some other pages as exemplars beyond the one page that I’ve now used twice now as inspiration.
I also took time before my meeting tonight to cut out my wrap cape, with plans to assemble it over the weekend.
And in some sad news, a livestreamed concert I was planning to attend on the 25th has now been cancelled, as in Toronto performances cannot currently take place even in empty venues. A Tafelmusik concert has likewise been postponed until next month and will be filmed rather than streamed. I am wondering how many more Sundays I am likely to get at Canadian Warplane Heritage–we have only two more weekends of flying left, and I think we’re probably good for this coming one; I don’t think museums have closed even in Toronto, but certainly the messaging is going back towards a hunker down mentality. I am crossing my fingers for my mid-November Hamilton Philharmonic ticket–that one, at least, was to be filmed rather than livestreamed.
And looking to the south, we are less than three weeks out from the election. What will I be writing here in three weeks’ time?