July 2021

“Are There Better Things To Be Than Right?”

Americans appear to be obsessed with being right. We employ scads of lawyers to protect our “rights.” And we appear to be willing to sacrifice almost anything, including our common decency, just to prove we were right.

Someone blatantly runs down another’s reputation causing great personal humiliation, to say nothing of the embarrassment and suffering for scores of family and friends. When asked, “Why?” The simple response is, “Well, it’s true.” The assumption seems to be that gossip isn’t gossip if it is true. That, of course, is false. But arguing the point is a bit like disputing the “right of way” with a Mack Truck.

Society, it seems, celebrates the truth not so much as the lurid truth. We have made a fetish of the public “right to know” everything about our public figures. Some celebrity commits an indiscretion and we feel we have “the right” to pass judgement. Personally, I don’t care how much some movie star spends on his haircuts. I’m all for the right, and justice, and truth, and all. But “being right” is not an end in itself. I wish I had a nickel for every marriage that broke up because one or the other always had to be “right.”

Once we have been given the truth–and that is what the “right” is–we have to know what to do with it. Emily Dickenson says, “The truth must dazzle gradually else every man be blind.” The truth is a gift than can liberate, but we need to stop treating it like a weapon.

One writer points out that on the Christian scale of values, “being right” has never been ranked as high as forgiving or being forgiven. The Pharisees had a knack for “being right” and it cost them dearly. It kept them from seeing how wrong things were in their own lives and it separated them from the One who could make it right.

Jesus came to forgive sinners. He rejoiced more in repentance than in human rightness. He valued mercy over sacrifice, charity over piety, and Love over everything else. Loving and “being loved” is better than “being right.”

WHK

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