Being Right by Tucker Morrow
As a little kid, I was constantly striving to be right. I constantly argued over seemingly insignificant things, and corrected people every instance I got in attempt to prove how smart I was. There was something about always being right that really appealed to me. In our culture today, I think that a lot of people have adopted this philosophy. As Donald Miller says “Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who’s smarter, and I don’t really care.” Our culture argues about all kinds of issues, seemingly for the chance to prove they are intellectually superior, and like Miller, I’m really tired of it.
When I was around 11, my sister, Chandler, was 7 and we argued a lot. We are both fairly hard-headed and she is incredibly intelligent, so that led to some passionate arguing about really insignificant things. I have always been pretty good at arguing (not really a good thing), and people always used to tell me “you should be a lawyer someday!” (I’m pretty sure it was never intended as a compliment). Anyway, Chandler and I were arguing one day about the lyrics to a Nickelback song (like I said, insignificant) and she pointed out to me in the lyric book that she was right. Not wanting to be defeated, I went online and made a fake MySpace account for the band and issued a fake statement saying “We apologize for the misprint in our lyric book.” I think making up a fake MySpace page for the band Nickelback in order to trick your 7 year old sister into thinking that you know the lyrics to a song better than she does has got to be close to rock bottom. For whatever reason though, I had to be right. I could not take the fact that maybe somebody was smarter than I was in a given subject.
I think the consequences of our culture’s need to be right can be devastating. There are so many daily reminders that people are mean to each other, for the sake of being right. The underlying theme here, in my opinion, is an enormous amount of insecurity. So many people in our culture walk around so insecure about who they are and what they’re worth, that they are willing to verbally attack someone else to feel just a tiny bit of fleeting validation. We turn people into their opinions, and treat them like an idea and not a human in an attempt to try and feel good about ourselves.
This insecurity is rampant in our culture. When you ask almost any little kid why they lost a game, the answer you’ll most likely get is “we didn’t play well” or “the refs sucked.” For some reason, people can no longer admit to the fact that someone is better than them at something. We constantly try and find reasons why someone else is wrong, and never want to admit that maybe part of the problem is with us. This is the very definition of insecurity. The bottom line is this, whenever we correct someone publicly, we are basically saying “Hey everybody look at how right I am and how wrong this other person is, can you believe that?” This reaction is one hundred percent about us, and zero percent about the other person being wrong.
There is no possible way to beat insecurity with insecurity. When we fight people, who are projecting their insecurity on others, by projecting ours on them, everybody loses. The only way to beat insecurity is with love. The way we take on insecurity is by calling out the good things in them. When we treat people as humans, with love, we can disagree with one another in a healthy way. When we allow insecure people the opportunity to set down their insecurity, and step into characteristic traits that we’ve called out of them, we make progress. Instead of posting another Facebook comment in a chain of controversial opinions, we can call the person we are arguing with and tell them what we love about them. When we give people identity, not in being right but in who they are, everybody wins.
All people are looking for validation, and we can give it to them. We can tell the extremely opinionated friend that whatever their stance on an issue, we admire their passion. When we call out good things in people, they live up to them. Like Miller said, all of this arguing is rarely about the issue, and usually about us. Let’s be people who admit when they’re wrong, and don’t get sucked into the trap of trying to massage our egos by always being “right".