I saw the headline of a tabloid article last week, “Being right vs Righteousness”. “Brilliant,” I thought, “the writer’s put her finger on precisely the region to investigate”.
She’d gotten something many do not: righteousness is a stance that is pernicious and deadly.
At the same time, there’s a further distance to travel.
The writer hasn’t yet grasped the full extent of the issue: that underneath the dichotomy, being right vs righteousness, is the same poison; namely, that whenever I am being right about something, I am making someone else wrong. And whenever I am making someone else wrong I am damaging my relationship with the person.
People object, of course.
But I am right! So-and-so event happened on so-and-so date; so-and-so person said so-and-so …
All of which is just more “being right”.
A friend described going to a lunch with three close friends and the question coming up, “Which would you rather be? Happy or right?” To her bewilderment, each of the three answered with their own version of bewilderment, “Why, if I’m right, then I’m right.” As she told the story, she was in shock at her friends’ apparent blindness to the lunacy of their stance.
Want to transform your life? Give up being right. End of. Period. Tout de suite. If you have to tell yourself, “I give up being right even when I am”, then so be it.
What one finds on the other side of being right is surprising. For starters, nothing catastrophic happens; in fact, no-one seems to notice. After the first few spasms, one stops noticing too. Then the real benefits start flowing …
Image: René Magritte, The Human Condition (1933)