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November 1, 2016

I Finally Understand the Election.

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“The sooner you choose to be happy rather than be right, the sooner you will be happy.” ~ Malti Bhojwani

Humans want to be right.

We want to be accurate in our beliefs. We strive to be correct because the alternative tastes bad. When we are right we feel safe. When we are right we have avoided being duped.

At that moment, we are not a victim of misinformation. We count ourselves among the enlightened when we are right. Being right makes us proud, bold, and…happy.

Being right has become a virtue. It has assumed its place alongside goodness, honor, integrity, and kindness.

In fact, it has been my observation that being right has eclipsed all other virtues, and now sits firmly ensconced in the number one position.

I recently spent a weekend at a lakeside resort. There I was in the early evening, seated in the lobby beside the fire…writing. A boy of seven or eight years old was playing checkers with his father. They played just five feet from my spot on the couch.

The game was going very well. The boy even complimented his father two times on his crafty moves.

I smiled as they played and I wrote.

Before long, the mother took a seat beside the boy. When she disputed a move the boy made, the boy let loose on her like a mad hornet. She made her point again, as calmly as she could. He raged on, arguing his point by citing an Uncle Joe who had apparently taught him checkers.

It was so intense that I nearly stepped in. Coincidentally, the boy was right.

Finally, the father spoke up in defense of the boy. The mother relented and their play continued.

In this real world example, being right was the final and only factor accepted as validation of this boy’s rude and disrespectful outburst aimed at his mother.

Being right has quite possibly become the ultimate trump card. It seems that no matter how boorish the behavior, if the person is found to be right, it is excused and even allowed.

Now that we are well down this road of the worship of being right, the fruit is making itself known. And it hangs ripe in our current election cycle.

We shake our collective head in bewilderment at the state of our current presidential race. My friends sit and lament the two candidates. People all over social media try to make sense of it.

I have grappled with this too. What is happening to my country?

I believe the answer can be found in how we have elevated “being right” above all other virtues.

So what if the candidate is crude, rude, dishonest, uninformed, unkind…they are right.

The message we have passed onto Washington is clear. We want our president to be right. Little else matters. As a result, we have been delivered candidates that are all too willing to engage in a dog fight because they are right. And we cheer our dog in the fight.

We have what we have because we ordered it.

I submit to you that when being right is the single criteria we require, when we allow the abandon of every other virtue, it creates a vacuum that can only be filled by hostility.

There is an inherent problem with placing priority on being right: we can’t all be right.

The call for civil discourse has been loud. We are implored to allow each the right to be right. After all, we can all be right, or at least we can agree to disagree, right?

In my humble opinion, those platitudes ring empty in our hearts. We instinctively know that we can’t all be right.

The desire to be right has jagged edges. It plants the seed of conflict, the root of defensiveness, and raises a banner to battle for.

We all can’t be right.

But, we can all be kind and loving and gentle and honest.

These have smooth edges. These allow us to not only coexist, but move forward.

It is my hope that this election will show us how our virtues have been out of balance. How if we welcome home the wayward virtue of being right, to live beside its siblings in equality, we will find ourselves in a better place.

 

 

~

Author: John Geers

Image: YouTube Still

Editor: Travis May

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