If I may share a story of a recent personal experience where I was the purveyor of opinion and judgement, hurt a friend and damaged a relationship in the process. My friend and I are of very differing political opinions and yet for the time we have known each other, we would listen to each other and not agree, and that was just fine. We both respected and knew when to back off and we enjoyed otherwise our mutual company. Then recently I had another friend with me and this was their first time meeting together. He being quite a direct person responded to a particular argument we were collectively having with the statement “Makes sense as I know you are a hard right winger” or something to that effect. Clearly the opinion he expressed could only have come from one quarter, from me. I didn’t pick it up at the time but my friend was very hurt, not specifically about what was said, but that I had already biased and labelled him before he even had a chance to get to know the other person. The outcome was a damaged relationship because I needed to be “right” and I didn’t even consider the consequences when I was labeling and judging him as “wrong”. Whether I can ever regain that friends trust and respect, I don’t know, but what I have gained is some insight and learning that may help improve my life and way of being for the future. I have no doubt I will continue to make judgments and mistakes, but hopefully less often and with greater awareness of impact and consequence.
“Situations and people aren’t right or wrong, they just are”! What I mean by that is our sense of “right or wrong” is ours! It’s personal, it’s our opinion, our perspective, our belief based on our values, ethics, background, persona and environment. And that is totally ok! The challenge is when we apply our sense of right or wrong beyond ourselves, when we insist that others should agree and comply with our views, our ways of being and ultimately societies way of living. With this controlling mindset and attitude we create division, we hurt people, we remove trust and respect, we damage relationships and in its worst form we sow the seeds of hatred and destruction.
That said, my question to society and us as a whole, can we get beyond our sense of right and wrong, can we get beyond our judgments and our need to have others accept and comply? It has historically been a challenge of our nature and our nurture and the world we want around us, but now the whole dynamic of what is our world has changed. What was physical is now virtual with the influence and control of the internet, mobility and social media. Now our opinions, biases and perspectives are magnified and focused to assure our addiction and our continued and increased used of social media platforms, just as that I am using to share this post. Whether Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest, Weibo, TikTok or even the professional Linkedin, all have the same motive and measure of success, “user engagement”. This is what defines their business models, their P&L’s and their capital values. And in the midst of all that are our ego’s, ever waiting to be nourished and fed and social media is like the proverbial candy store where right and wrong is endemic and paramount. Rather than offer opinion and balance, we are offered everything our ego’s crave for, assurance of our rightness, confirmation of our meaning and the security of knowing we are not alone. Who and how we hurt matters none as we can neither feel or see it on the internet. Division and destruction matters none when we are right. And yet in our history, we have irrefutable evidence of what happens with being right, what happens when we have our ego’s fed and we judge and divide and divide and judge to where our fellow beings become less that human and so the story goes. That may all seem as an extreme and yet who was to know in 1910 or in 1930 or in 1960 or in 1980 or 2000 or 2010 what was to come next. In all cases war, human destruction and misery.
Ah, that was our history and yet we can see the divisions of peoples and nations today with Climate Change, Brexit, Making America and other countries great again (nationalism), China influence, Russia warmongering, Racism, Sexism, Religious intolerance & extremism, Immigration, Refugees and on and on and on it goes. Not surprising we are being measured as the most depressed generation and not just because of our awareness of mental illness but because of the daily feeding of our ego’s with misery and more misery and to make us feel better, feel whole, we take the side of rightness, of being right. And that being compounded by our loneliness and insular worlds defined by the mobile device we hold in our hands for hours and hours of each day while deliciously loving, needing and caring fellow humans are just ignored as we each are equally ignored.
So with that as a diagnosis of our current state and the prognosis being even worse, what hope is there for the future? Can we take a different approach, can we change and choose a world of engagement, empathy and inclusion Vs judgement, division and isolation. Can we find a place in our lives where we care for more than just those who fit our brand of political, religious, moral or philosophical rightness.
I believe we can and that change starts when we can look in the mirror, where we can reflect on the person looking back. Where we can appreciate the ego and the BS stories it is telling us. Where we can become self-aware enough to recognise and understand that judgmental, demanding, insecure, scared and frail human being we feel we are. Where we can free ourselves from being right or wrong and just smile back and just be as me and as you and as us. It is a real possibility if we want for less misery and pain, and for more contentment and joy in our lives and as a consequence more for the world we live in. Our world starts with that person in the mirror and the difference we can make if we can understand and can choose differently. Our choice in every moment of every day!
This is but my perspective, I offer you to read this article from psychology today and Psychotherapist Mel Schwartz, an expert who gives a more clinical context of what is our need for being Right and Wrong. Reflect and enjoy……
Click here to read more.