Being right isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Sometimes being right isn’t right.
There are times when we find ourselves in arguments that seem critically important in the moment, that get us riled up with righteous indignation, that cause us to rant and fret and worry and stew. Sometimes these arguments are truly important, but most of the time they are just arguments. Their outcome will not make a difference in a week or a month and it is possible that in that time, we will forget what the issue was in the first place. Most arguments fall into this category I think.
Those petty, small, unimportant arguments become a real problem when we decide that being right is more important than being kind. Winning the argument becomes a higher priority than winning at friendship. Our quest for right-ness causes us to say things that can’t be unsaid. It causes us to forget why we are arguing and focus on who we are arguing with. When we focus our argument on the person, being right has trumped being what we know to be right. And then we all lose.
When people get hurt because of your victory, being right wasn’t right.
When you get the last word because your words have become weapons that have left someone battered and torn, you lose a little part of yourself in the winning.
When your argument has casualties, people who get pulled into the fray, damaged in your battle, bruised by your determination to prove a point, your point is lost because people will just remember how you made them feel, and not what you were so right about.
When people feel like they have to pick sides and things become so black and white that all the middle gray area, disappears, you have lost.
When your victory feels shallow and your triumph leaves you feeling empty, being right wasn’t right at all.
When you engage in battle over right and wrong, black and white, winning and losing, how do you FEEL? When you make your point, are you focused on the issue or is your point just a dagger aimed at someone’s heart? When you walk away from a conversation, do you feel good about what you have said or is there a part that you wish you could have back? When you examine that part that you’d like to have back, how do you react? Do you learn? Do you apologize? Do you use that weapon again?
The world is full of conflict and people and wars and battles. In every conflict, there are two sides that believe they are right. In every war, each side fights for the right-ness that they believe in. How many winners do you really see in the bombed out remains of the battles big and small? How many victors emerge without casualty? What price do we pay for the privilege of being right?
What price do YOU pay?
What price would you pay if you chose kindness instead? What would the spoils of victory look like if you didn’t win, didn’t defeat, didn’t end up on top? What would your world look like if you made room for more than one right answer?
Next time you heat up for that argument, ask yourself what kindness would look like instead.