Today, I learned about the Judaic concept of “dan l’kaf zichud,” or, about the obligation to judge others favorably.
In a nutshell, it is about giving someone the benefit of the doubt, not assuming a value judgment immediately about anything and everything. Given all the crap that goes on in the news, and on different social media platforms, and let’s face it — in all of our everyday interactions with people, no matter what we are doing — it can be hard not to automatically assign a value.
Even with Emmett Wilson’s research, I find myself judging him, his actions, his behavior 100 years after the fact. That’s problematic; it reveals that I don’t automatically look at him and his actions objectively, as a true social scientist should.
Maybe it is because I’ve gotten close to him, maybe it is because as a fellow alcoholic, I understand the warped thinking that comes with our disease. Although I believe I have an accurate understanding of him after four years of studying his life, I didn’t know the man personally. I wish I did.
I don’t always think to give others (living and/or dead 100 years) the benefit of the doubt. But I admit that always assuming the worst of someone, or something, poisons one’s interpretation of information. Or of the person. And then, we miss out on the gift that other person, or that different information, can bring to us.
And that can be unfortunate.
This was an important and valuable lesson today.
(A tip of the hat to Jake Tapper for inspiring me to learn more about this important concept.)
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