Limits to the benefit of the doubt

Dear President Trump,

Typically I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone is behaving badly I imagine what might be driving the behavior – are they tired, stressed, worried, hormonal, having a bad day? I make up some pretty great stories about the woes people are facing to help me let go of the hot coals I would otherwise want to fling at them.

You might guess, though, that I stopped giving you the benefit of the doubt long ago. You see, it doesn’t make sense to keep doing that for someone who repeatedly, purposely behaves badly, especially when he has made it his trademark go-to way of being in the world. Thus, there is no way I will give you the benefit of the doubt for your all-caps Twitter rant at Iran last night. The only logical reasons for you to have done this are to destabilize, distract, and deliver for Vladimir somehow, plus inappropriately venting your rage (and fear) as the Russian investigation net tightens up on you.

I had another sort of ‘do I give this person the benefit of the doubt?’ situation this morning. I was nearly home from my walk-run when I had to wait for the light to change at one of the busy arterials that feeds onto the freeway. I know not to mess with this street so it wasn’t until the light was solidly red and the walk light had been up for a few seconds that I started across. Even still, I was startled to hear a car racing towards me and I looked over just in time to stop and dash back to the sidewalk before a young man barreled through the red light at over 60 miles an hour. No pause, no hesitation whatsoever. He then blazed through the next red light. Fortunately I’d already started my morning LKM recitation and it gave me the wherewithal to just hold up my open hand in protest rather than yelling or giving him the finger. I did not, and will not, however, give him the benefit of the doubt. If I’d taken one more step or had hesitated or tripped, he would have killed me. There is no possible emergency that gives him the right to endanger other people like that.

When people like you or that driver, behave badly repeatedly and take unnecessary risks with others’ safety, you forfeit receiving the benefit of the doubt.

May we be safe to cross the street.
May we be happy to give others the benefit of the doubt when they are just being regular old human.
May we have healthy boundaries and not give repeated evil-doers passes.
May you not start a war with Iran or anyone else.

Tracy Simpson

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