Right to be wrong or wrong to be right?

Why is it we feel the need to invalidate and disregard others who don’t think and have the same preferences as we do? I ask this using the inclusive because I realize I do it too.

When I posted the movie review about Daybreakers, there were several comments made that it wasn’t the kind of movie some would ever watch due to the gore and violence. I understand that, I really do. I am not a fan of that myself. However, and maybe this is just a flawed perception on my part, some of the comments seemed to have a subtle hint of disapproval or disdain regarding these kinds of movies and those who watch them.

I’ve seen it play out over and over again, sometimes participating. One person’s preference, opinion, belief, or method is taunted, ridiculed, rejected, or shunned, treated as invalid because it goes against what another or group of others think or are accustomed to.

A friend of mine posted an article that highlighted this very thing. It was regarding one family’s history of having a lot of children with the eldest son and his wife carrying that choice forward and having a third child. Apparently there is or has been a reality show about the family, although, I’ve never seen it. The article stated that our society has a “My body, my choice,” attitude of acceptance and normality for a woman’s right to choose abortion, but not if a woman chooses to mother a large family, especially if her religious beliefs factor into her decision. Apparently, there were a lot of horrific comments made to the original article announcing the family’s expansion. Name calling, vilification, and death wishes were the message of the day.

On the flip side, we’ve all witnessed at one point or another the open hatefulness that has been displayed toward staff and clients braving the picket lines of pro-life protesters.

I don’t have the answer to the pro-choice/pro-life debate – and it isn’t the topic at hand – but I will say this: I am both pro-choice and pro-life. I believe that each and every person has the right to decide for themselves what actions they are going to take. I believe that each person’s body is their own and no one has the right to impose or determine their will over another person. I believe in the sanctity of life and that life happens for a reason. The decision to end a life, regardless of how valid or senseless the reasoning is, has far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for the one making that decision and ripples into the lives and psyches of those connected to both the life that is taken and the one doing the taking.

Moving on.

I saw a post from a group of introverts who were frustrated and upset by an article stating that in order for introverts to be happier, they need to act like extroverts. Some of their responses were as denigrating to extroverts as they were accusing the article’s author of being toward them.

Drivers vs bicyclists

Horror vs drama

Vegan/vegetarian vs carnivore

Male vs female

Generation vs generation

Rich vs poor

Science vs religion

Religion vs religion

Race vs race

The list goes on and on and on. There are a lot of prejudices and isms in our world.

We use words and phrases that could have been sung by the character, Ursula in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Even if we don’t say it, we think it:

Those poor, unfortunate souls are mistaken, misguided, brainwashed, deceived, evil because they don’t think/look/act as we do and it makes us feel uncomfortable and somehow threatened that if their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and perspective are valid, then we are invalidated.

I am learning that right, wrong, or somewhere on the multi-colored spectrum between white and black, every human being has validity and the right to be wrong, as well as the right to believe they are right. Someone else being right only means I’m wrong if I said two plus two was anything other than four.

Even if I disagree and think someone else is wrong, I’m learning to let go of my need to be vindicated and validated by having them agree with me and tell me I’m right. I’m learning to try to understand how they arrived at their conclusions and why they believe as they do.

I am teaching, or trying to teach, Luna that how she feels is how she feels, but feeling a certain way doesn’t give her the right to treat others badly when they don’t accommodate her feelings or say and do what she thinks they should. It’s a difficult lesson to teach a four year old. It’s especially difficult to teach when confronted with the reality that it’s one I’m still learning myself.

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31 comments

  1. Great post, very thought provoking. Unfortunately, every human being has a prejudice, whether we like to admit it or not, especially based on upbringing or understanding of propriety and decorum. Our senses and emotions are triggered by the things we see or hear, whether it is seeing someone wearing shorts at a wedding, or a muslim woman wearing a bukhah covering her entire face (except her eyes), or an individual with a thousand tattoos covering his/her entire body. Like you say, feeling it may be ok to an extent, it is treating others badly because of it that is a problem. Although everybody should stand for something, I also believe that we must also get to the point where we acknowledge that those feelings should not necessarily be there especially if they are based on stereotypes or prejudices?

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  2. I agree that in most instances we don’t have to make someone right. But I think there are times when *harm* – or who is harmed more – does serve as a good foundation to determine right and wrong.

    The most difficult instance I can think of is the pro-life versus pro-choice argument. I am pro-choice because the pro-life side actually creates more harm.

    Abortion laws don’t tend to stop abortions. They tend to create women to try try to self-abort, or go to back alley abortionists. Then both mother and baby die.

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    1. I understand and agree with your reasoning. The problem is that depending on one’s core values and foundational belief system, the definition and interpretation of what is harmful may be different. So, your understanding and value system and mine may be similar but those who oppose and disagree with us are operating from a different understanding and value system. That is why I believe that I do not necessarily have the right and authority to judge another’s opinion and beliefs wrong, since to do so would be judging them according to my personal standards.

      As co-citizen in a country full of those with their own personal operating systems we have a justice and governing system by which we ALL agree to operate and be held accountable to. If someone, based on their personal operation system chooses to go outside those external boundaries then he or she will experience the consequences and repercussions of that decision regardless of whether it was morally right to do so. Likewise, when enough people of similar understanding band together change can be implemented through majority rule. Majority rule doesn’t determine moral correctness, it is what many agree should be or that it is what they are comfortable with.

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  3. I like to say the only thing I’m prejudiced against is stupidity, but I know I’ve prejudged people and criticized/thought less of them because of various preferences. I also know there are things about people that raise red flags about whether or not that person and I will be able to form some sort of relationship. That doesn’t make them wrong or me right; it just means I have nothing in common with them other than being fellow human beings. That’s enough for respect and civility, but not enough for chit chat.

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  4. Loved this post! I read a quote recently; ‘People without imagination will often ridicule yours.’ I think the reasons for why we fail to afford courtesy to those we recognise as different from us can be complicated but often it boils down to one of two things – 1.) We’re too lazy to let our imagination stretch to accomodate another’s experience, and the way it may inform their view and life. Or 2.) We’re so insecure of our own view we feel the need to denigrate everyone else’s in order to affirm it. I know we can all do it to varying extents but boy does it annoy me to encounter this kind of narrow mindedness. I guess the challenge, as you say, is to find ways to prevent ourselves, and loved ones, from unwittingly adopting the same habits of mind.

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    1. Thoughtlife,
      Thanks for reading and joining the conversation. You articulated well the points I was trying to make, thank you.

      My difficulty is in realizing how insidious and embedded that kind of thinking already is and has been. Now I’m working on creating new habits of thought, while teaching them to my youngest child and in the midst of that being the primary pattern we experiments from most others. It’s definitely a challenge.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  5. “Someone’s wrong on the Internet and I must correct them” syndrome can get pretty bad.

    The question of who is right and who is wrong depends on perspective, belief, and feelings more than facts in many cases. Because of that it is critical at times to walk away from conversations at some point and not to take others comments personally. Many things that we “know” to be true really can’t be proved scientifically so a conversation trying to convert people who disagree can turn ugly fast.

    It’s great that you are learning not to take disagreement as an attack & that you are teaching Luna this skill.

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    1. Tasha,
      You are correct about how prolific and apparent this is on the internet. However, I see evidence of it in everyday life: how the people around me react and respond to each other and how they speak about situations and topics they feel strongly about.

      At any rate, I am recognizing my own part when these kinds of conflicts arise. It’s very challenging at times. I’m working on it.

      Thanks for reading and joining in the conversation.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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        1. Oh no! That isn’t what I meant at all. I want to read it. I’ve realized that I hardly read ANYTHING since my laptop’s vid card crashed in May. Before that, I’m having difficulty remembering the last actual book I read. My prescription glasses broke about three years ago and while it wasn’t a strong one, it was very specific because I have varying degrees of both farsightedness and nearsightedness with astigmatism in both eyes.

          Now that all I do is on the screen of my phone and not a lot of sites are mobile optimized for reading, I do even less than I already did. Reading and dancing were two things that kept me going in my younger years and both are things I’ve let go of. I need to take them back regardless of discomfort.

          Blessings,
          Kina

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          1. I didn’t mean to suggest that you meant anything Kina. Aww I feel bad now. I’m OK with whatever you want to do is all I meant. Keep up the great writing – I think, no, I am sure that your posts give others the permission to be vulnerable. I know your courage has given me permission to do so!
            xo
            Diana

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          2. No feeling bad allowed! Let’s just agree that neither of us ever intend to imply anything negative or hurtful and no need to ever be defensive. How does that sound?

            I’m grateful to know that what I do here is helping more than just me.

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  6. Human beings have a tendency to define themselves not by what they believe, thus spreading light, but by what or who they oppose, thus spreading darkness. If I, as a Christian, represent myself by what I believe, then I should do good to others, feed hungry people, donate clothing to people who have little, visit sick people in hospitals. That spreads the light of what I believe. Of course, I could always define my Christianity by what I oppose, such as other religious streams, various political streams, various philosophical streams, but then I’m spreading darkness and no one can see my light.

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    1. James,
      You summed it up perfectly! Defining myself by what I believe rather than who or what I oppose, is definitely my goal and what I hope Luna is able to learn. Thanks for the clarity!

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  7. Brilliant post Kina! It is possible to contain both a conviction of our own “rightness” and at the same time an understanding that others feel just the same about their own beliefs and opinions. If someone comes to me to change my ways by force they will have a fight on their hands, but I’d never force my beliefs or ways on another.

    Thanks for sharing, the world could definitely do with a little more “live and let live” 🙂

    Rohan.

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  8. I like your discussion on the pro-life/pro-choice debate. It’s not a topic you can easily move on from. It’s the one debate where your right to be wrong impacts the rights of another: the unborn.

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    1. Jason,
      I appreciate and understand what you are saying here. You are correct that it isn’t easily moved on from. However, in the context of what the topic of this post was about, that is a subject that requires more than I was able to give it at this time and is one example of many along a spectrum of topics that we use to tear others down about in order to build ourselves up over.

      Thanks for reading and contributing to the conversation.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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      1. Yes, it’s unfortunate when some people only tear others down only to build themselves up. Not everyone taking a stance on a controversial issue is seeking self validation. Hopefully they are following their conscience in the pursuit of truth and justice.

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        1. Very true, Jason. The problem I am seeing is that most people are following their conscience and their understanding of what is true, but don’t necessarily have the emotional/psychological maturity or ability to explain and debate their position in healthy and constructive ways, often not realizing that the manner in which they argue their point, is doing more harm than good.

          The reality is that when we believe we are on the side of right, truth, and justice we have a tendency to also believe and act as if those who have a different experience and understanding are automatically wrong, lying or believing lies, and not interested in justice, which isn’t a) necessarily the case and b) doesn’t generally allow an open and constructive dialogue because both sides are invested in either converting the other or eradicating the opposition.

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          1. I guess it all comes down to truth. It is only right to convert someone’s beliefs if they believe in a lie. Like you said, they have the right to believe in a lie, but you are not wrong for trying to show them the truth. You’re definitely right that far too many people attempt this in insensitive ways.

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          2. Exactly. We tend to want others to hear , understand, and believe as we do but seldom seek to listen to them or understand why they believe as they do. Perception of truth is relative. Absolutes and constants do exist, but what people believe about the absolutes and constants differ. So often we are using the same words but speaking a completely different language, because our experiences and the context we learned them in was so different. If you want someone to understand you, you have to try to understand their context and language in order to grasp why they believe and think as they do. Just telling someone they’re wrong and telling them the other thing is right, is not enough to convince them. If you don’t bother to care or show interest in them and where they are coming from, how can you expect them to do that for you?

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    1. Annett,
      Thank you for reading and offering your feedback. It does take time and maturity. One thing I’ve learned is to pick my battles. Then I realized I needed to stop seeing them as battles and instead to try to treat them as diplomatic emissaries who have something to teach me about their culture and experiences.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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