The Terror of Being RightPosted: 19 May 2012
“Why do we need to feel virtuous? When I feel self-righteous, am I in the mode that can produce terrorism?” ~Madeleine L’Engle, Bright Evening Star
Back to the question of being “right” again…I can’t get away from it. When I need to be right, am I any better than anyone else who needs to be right? Of course, I’m not, but it’s so easy in those moments to convince myself that because the causes I fight for are just and focused on inequality, it’s okay for me to close my mind to what anyone else has to say. And it isn’t any better…but it’s so easy to just turn off that little voice that says that sometimes being right doesn’t make things any better…and it can definitely make things worse.
My friend K. writes a blog about parenting, and she wrote a few days ago about how people judge other parents by their own standards of parenting…and how this turns people against each other. We all want so much to believe that we’re doing the right thing for ourselves, for our families, for our Gods, for our causes, that we convince ourselves by shutting out the rest of the arguments. We try to yell louder than everyone else.
And so, when I read the quote from Madeleine L’Engle that opened this piece, it really hit me how true it is. As I struggle with what it means to be right, I’m also struggling to find the balance between war and peace, destruction and creation. So much of what destroys in this world comes not from the goal of destruction, but from the goal of proving once and for all who is right. And I don’t want to be right if that’s the cost.
But in those moments of self-righteousness and indignant political/religious/social anger, it can be really hard to remember that…
“Hate has erased all the normal barriers…Hate is contagious. We asked ourselves how immune we were…” ~Madeleine L’Engle, Bright Evening Star