... in the Presupposition

Published on 22 Oct 2020
Bag of chips and bottle of ketchup

I was walking along the high street the other day, it was early evening and I passed a KFC with plate glass windows. There were two children in school uniforms sitting at one of the tables with an older man who was presumably their father. As they sat eating he had his eyes on his phone, not engaging with them. 

I almost took a photo and I could have put it on social media with the caption 'modern parenting.' But I remembered that St Ignatius, in his Spiritual Exercises, talks about the 'Presupposition' where we ought to presuppose good of the other rather than bad. Two things occurred to me almost as soon as I had the judgemental thought that he was a bad father, feeding his kids with junk food, and not focusing on them. In the first place, this might be a rare treat, and the kids certainly looked like they were enjoying themselves. In the second place, perhaps he was looking at his phone because he was having a stressful, difficult day - perhaps in the middle of a messy break up, an argument with a loved one, or worried about redundancy. 

I see myself as quite a compassionate person but moments like this make me wonder if I really am: in any case, sometimes a simple 'rule' such as this one from a saint or from scripture helps me be a better person, and I am grateful for the correction.