It's an epidemic. It's not Ebola, or Nile virus, or Dengue fever, or polio, or SARS or Legionnaires disease. The epidemic I'm referring to is having to be right.
Most people like to be right. Having to being right is the most important way the ego is satisfied. It doesn't matter if other people are hurt, maimed or killed in the act of having to be right. Being right feels good and no one is going to take that away from you. Long live your ego!
If I were inclined to feel a little generous about the human race after years of being exposed to wars and the global killing fields, I might give mankind a break and proffer that all this cruel and brutal behavior is a result of the worst inclinations of man's collective unconscious. Yet, these terrible atrocities seem to have purpose, and frankly I'm not in the mood to cut mankind a break. It might be safe to say that most human destruction is caused by man's obsessive need to have to be right. Here is a short list:
To be right about religion and whose G-d is the best and the brightest
To be right about nationalism and what land belongs to what county
To be right about social issues, which cause extreme polarization
To be right about needing weaponry to defend country against country
To be right about which chief disciple or despot carries forth the one truth
Human kind knows no limits when it comes to having to being right. It's a common notion that other people's opinions or ideas don't have any value outside of your agenda. It isn't a valid premise and here's why:
1. Having to be right comes with a heavy price.
People who have to be right find themselves alone and isolated from groups of friends, colleagues or families. They hold on to their righteous ideology and opinions so tightly that no one can have a reasonable dialogue with them. Their need to be right becomes a crusade. As they push their ideological agenda onto others, people who have to be right fail to realize that they are more than their thoughts, more than their ideas.
2. Having to be right does not respect the individuality of others.
Every person is born with unique DNA. Every brain is wired differently. What you think comes from nurture and nature and the development of different psychological and emotional constructs. This dichotomy suggests a need for mutual respect for other people's ideas and interests. However, if someone can't let go of having to be right, mindsets become rigid and fixed in patterns that prevent openness to others.
3. Having to be right destroys the possibility of entertaining alternatives.
Webster's dictionary defines the word right as "conforming to facts or truth; most favorable or desired." This definition conflates truth with fact. Whose truth? Whose fact? What if two different viewpoints each conform to the truth? Which is more right? Or is one person's truth the other person's fiction?
4. Having to be right leads to self-destructive behavior.
It's human nature to perceive people who have to be right as know-it-alls. Their implacable attitude conjures up people who are alienated from interaction in society. The general perception is they are not team players or don't work well with others. Self-righteous people are hard to get along with. They tend to be unconscious and disconnected from their environments.
5. Having to be right cuts people off from possibilities and opportunities.
People who have to be right perpetuate their own isolation. They cut themselves off from what the world has to offer because they are convinced they know best. Rigid ideas and self-important opinions keep these know-it-alls from evolving as individuals. They cannot and will Life stands still. Worse, people who have to be right are stuck in quicksand of the past.
6. Having to be right kills curiosity.
People who have to be right are not curious people. Why should they be when they have all the answers. Therefore, they do not practice active listening. They are not completely aware of what's going on in the environment. The result is that curiosity slowly dies, and in the end, nothing but other people's validation will ever be satisfactory. A mind develops with alternative thoughts, ideas and desires and a healthy exchange of dialogue with others.
7. Having to be right is not worth the emotional struggle.
It takes so much energy and time for people to have to be right. Sometimes it even takes weapons to keep their ideas alive and spreading to others. Those who take ideas to extremes with a single-minded purpose and never notice different contrasts of thought are the true losers in the fight to keep their beliefs alive. And those beliefs will never have lasting results.
If people didn't have to be right, the world would look different, feel different and think different. Instead of a world of isolation and mistrust, the self-righteous would turn their attention to connecting to the present, thereby encountering possibilities and opportunities for change and growth. When the mind is free to listen and learn, negative mindsets turn into positives energy, struggle and stress vanish and a happier and more fulfilling life will follow.