Foreword: This was nearly the name of this blog, because it is possibly the thing I hold closest to my heart as a cause to be championed.
So, like most people I have a whole heap of opinions, views and issues on which I would like to give my two pence. But there’s a problem which almost stops me before I start (actually there are several, but let’s stick to just one right now). It occurs to me that I have run up against this problem time and time again when having any kind of opinionated conversation (and have overheard time and time and time again). It’s kind of a base-level problem, a problem on which all other problems will build. You know what, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this problem leads to or exacerbates nearly every other common problem I have ever heard of. And the worst thing? Solving the problem only takes six words.
It is okay to be wrong.
Catch that? No?
It is okay to be wrong.
Really. That’s it. Because the problem is that on almost all sides we are indirectly taught that it is not okay. From a society that glorifies pointless achievement while also mocking genuine failure, to our own evolutionary instincts, we are surrounded, assaulted and drowned in a world that says (as in, with actual words) that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but communicates in every other way except fucking conversation that it’s terrible.
From societal shaming (peer pressure) to workplace atmosphere (alpha workers) we build our world on the concept that it’s awesome to be the best. And it absolutely is! But while it may seem like a minor distinction at first, there is a huge world-devouring void of difference between ‘it is the best to be the best’ to ‘if you are not the best, you are bad’. Sound a bit pernickety? It’s not. The first statement is constructive, it inspires and drives.
And it’s hard. It’s hard to combat an issue that is coded in at a near instinctive level. But you know what? That’s really not an excuse. It’s also evolutionary instinct to beat someone to death if they take something from you, but that’s generally seen as bad. You know, it’s called murder. And it is completely natural. But that doesn’t make it okay. The vast majority of civilization is built around the idea that we have to control our impulses. And we can. It’s what makes us human. It’s the reason we have cities, and planes, and can send people to space. From the concept of fire to the cutting edge of nanotechnology, we build our species by not just doing, but thinking.
Once you can see this, once you can admit even the possibility that humans are capable of dealing with our own genetic impulses, everything else almost seems moot. It’s not, but it sure as shit doesn’t seem quite so monumental.
But hey, is this really a problem at all? Maybe I just need to shut the fuck up and deal? Okay, let’s assume that’s true. Let’s test it. I am willing to bet that if you have at somepoint got into a conversation with someone. It gets heated, ideas and opinions are flying back and forth. Now here’s the important bit – at somepoint you will realize that you are wrong. The other person (or people) have actually got a point, and in truth you agree with them. Or at least you recognize that your argument is invalid.