Assuming the good


By Sam Aitchison
The Church is Alive!


This past fall, I took a course at Saint Louis University’s business school called “Social Change Leadership.” This class explored various leadership styles and practices with an emphasis on positive social change. We focused on ways to collaborate with individuals and institutions to create a better world by addressing issues such as food insecurity and ensuring safe and affordable housing for all.

This class was particularly formative to my college experience, especially through our daily Examen (introspective prayer) reflections. Through course discussion, a recurring theme emerged amongst my classmates and myself: assuming the good in others. This principle, though seemingly simple, underscored the importance of giving others the benefit of the doubt. Known formally as the “Ignatian Presupposition,” it involves being slow to condemn, quick to praise, correcting with love and kindness, and seeking common ground.

To me, this principle is an extension of James 1:19: “Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (USCCB). I believe practicing this isn’t about ignoring reality; it’s about recognizing that people are complex and often face struggles and difficulties we don’t know about. What we see is often only a sliver of the entire picture of people’s lives.


To me, assuming the good means acknowledging that our Church and parishes aren’t perfect and it is important to strive to let little things go — a cold sanctuary, an off-key song or our irritation with the person sitting next to us.

It means always focusing on the problem or challenge at hand and never degrading people in my academic and professional endeavors. It means always upholding the inherent dignity and value of every person — in every conversation, online message and encounter.

Jane Goodall, a renowned British ethologist in the 20th century, said, “What you do makes a difference. And you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” This sentiment reflects the enduring impact a prayer, comment or act of kindness can have on people.

I’ve been fortunate to have witnessed individuals, many from the Davenport Diocese, who have made a positive impact in their communities and in the lives of many. Their example has made a lasting inspiration on others, including me.

On Pentecost Sunday a few weeks ago, Pope Francis said, “If we want harmony, let us seek him, not worldly substitutes. Let us invoke the Holy Spirit each day. Let us begin our day by praying to him. Let us become docile to him!”

As we continue through Ordinary Time and the beauty of long summer days, barbeques with family and friends, and refreshing dips in pools or lakes, I am going to try to follow the Holy Father’s advice. I am going to strive to assume the best in others and let go of minor irritations and things that do not help me love God and others. By embracing Christ’s call to love and serve, I truly believe we can foster more love in our interactions by assuming the good in others.

(Sam Aitchison is a sophomore at Saint Louis University. He can be reached at

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