Your Right To Be Wrong

From my high office of Average Personhood, as acting Opinion-generator of No Consequence and by the power vested in me by Myself Alone,

I hereby grant thee…

The right to be wrong, to stumble, to bumble, to make wrong turns, to change direction and then change it again, to get lost along the way, to be a constant work in progress. I recommend possibly even wearing a sign warning that you are “under construction”.

I say this because I believe that in order to live a life of any value whatsoever we must: learn, grow, change our minds, expand our point of view, throw out the old and start anew. Perhaps pick it up again, dust it off and reclaim it, look at it with fresh eyes, maybe only in order to discard it once more.

And if we are always learning and growing there is no way we can look back at our choices and feel we would make the same ones given what we now know (I’m sidestepping the notion that we would have to make those mistakes to wind up where we are now, we’ve seen “Back to the Future”). Of course there was a rational, a logic behind why we came to the conclusion that we did, but this doesn’t make it the best conclusion— I like to think of it thus wise, there’s a rational behind why every person has brought to pass anything and everything ever done and I certainly don’t agree with ALL of it.— So to live is to make mistakes.

And yet we live in a society where we too often shame each other for ever being wrong. “That person said something wrong “, “This person wore something wrong “, “They were wrong and therefore will never be right henceforth!”. So we learn to hide our mistakes, deny our miscalculations, and in public we defend the rightness of our deeds to the death, even if behind closed doors we secretly question them.

I fear that as time goes by this need for “rightness” causes us to isolate from one another more and more. As we discover all the ways that we have been mistaken, we associate our wrongness with others. We point fingers and evade certain people’s “wrongness spreading influence”, and out of embarrassment, we avoid being around others who we’ve “egg-faced” ourselves in front of. We fear appearing in public because we might say or do something wrong and we revel in the “wrongnessess” others have committed, because by comparison our wrongness seems much less severe .

But what if we stopped running from our wrongness? What if we welcomed those times we notice the wrong, because they give us the opportunity to be more right in the future? How about we launch fewer criticisms at ourselves, at each other? Instead we could ask the critics to please place it in the suggestion box (in fact I might just wear one around my neck).

So I say we stop defending how right we are despite all of the evidence mounting up against us, and instead defend our right to be wrong— this too often neglected right. ‘Cause when I mull it over, I can hardly think of anything which has more successfully defeated us, then our own failure to alter course when it is called for (ask the navigators of the Titanic) .

I suppose inherent in what I’m saying is the belief that there is no one right way to go about living. I for one don’t know the rules to this thing we’re calling life (and whenever I get too comfortable in the delusion that I do, circumstances seem to change entirely). Someone might know A way, even a very good way, perhaps the best, but that does not mean that they know THE way. Which yes, means we can never “go on automatic pilot”, simply following along in someone else’s steps. Our steps will always belong uniquely to us, so we must allow for the possibility of missteps, otherwise we are safe only in standing still and that’s a very precarious position to remain in ( I’ve only ever seen the odd Yogi who can pull that off with any success ).

To put it succinctly, I think we are in the process of figuring this whole “life” thing out together, so why not simply compare notes? Right? But I’m quite happily wrong.


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