See, here’s a thing that is really fucking up our world right now. It fucks us up personally, socially, and in this country, at least, really fucks us up politically.
People hate to be wrong. Human nature. But it’s become so ridiculously heightened in modern culture that being wrong is anathema that it has become a sort of societal self-harm.
We make an emphatic statement, often without all the facts, or any facts, or without truly thinking over the issue at hand to form a true, real opinion. From little things to enormous ones, we lay down our personal law, and then we stick to our guns and never say die. That was one helluva mixed metaphor, but it’s the truth.
It’s stubbornness. We get so entrenched in the idea of never being wrong that we cannot allow for the possibility of it. Even when we know we’re not right or correct, we refuse to admit it, refuse to learn and grow and concede the point, because we can all be damned and go to hell before we’ll say we fucked up, or admit that someone else is in the right over us, especially when they’re saying something we don’t like, or got riled up about.
Just because you said something doesn’t mean it has to be the only thing you ever say, at all. Just because you meant it then doesn’t mean you can’t revise your opinion and position later, when you’ve been better or differently informed, by experience or facts or reliable sources.
We just cannot deal with it. We can’t handle actually letting the words “I was wrong” or “you’re right” or even “you have a point” or “I hadn’t thought of that before” trip out of our mouths. Do we think it will make us look weak? Stupid? Heaven forbid, like we’re “flip-flopping”?
That’s not so, I promise you. It isn’t weakness to learn, to add to your knowledge, to reframe your opinions and beliefs with new experiences or narratives contributed by those who have the experiences we may lack. It’s also okay to admit that while you may have a belief, your word is far from the last. Be willing to engage in dialogue, in discourse, in conversation. Not in ranting and raving and screaming matches. Take part in debate, not bullheaded arguing.
It’s so pervasive in our culture, and a prime example is politics. Almost never do you see a politician revise his or her stance, or his or her “platform.” They are apparently meant to arrive on the political stage fully formed, complete in their life and their knowledge and beliefs, experiences and understandings. I’m sorry, but I want a human being representing me, one who can learn and grow and change, as humans and the entire fucking world naturally do. And if a politician does alter or edit their opinion (which is not the same thing as saying one thing to one audience, and another thing entirely to a different audience, and then swapping the views out like swatches to match your suit and your constituency), their opposition inevitably starts hurling abuse about how they’ve clearly no idea what they’re talking about ever because oh my god, they’ve reconsidered an issue and changed their mind, or admitted they were incorrect or misinformed, so obviously they’ve never had clue fucking one about anything they’ve done or said, ever.
It’s ridiculous. We’re human. We fuck up. We don’t start out knowing everything; we never will, not in any lifetime. The world, the universe, humanity is fluid, ever-changing, flexible. Let your mind and your understanding be flexible as well. When one set of beliefs or opinions no longer rings true or has been disproven reasonably, set them aside and form new ones to reflect what is known now.
It’s not easy, being able to admit you’re wrong, or even the possibility that you might be. It can sting, rankle. Frequently doesn’t sit well, especially with the heaping helping of “Ha! I told you so, you idiot” so often served by those you give the admission to.
But it actually, in its way, does make life easier. It can be such an utter relief, not having to defend a statement or idea to the death just because at one time, it fit as truth with you. If it rings hollow, let it go. Don’t cling bitterly to it, come hell or high water, just because it seemed worth committing to at one point. And you’ll find your mind becomes refreshingly more open when you don’t reject out of hand every thought and consideration that doesn’t immediately fit neatly with the rigid frame you’ve set up for your life. Allowing for the possibility of being wrong, or not entirely informed, brings back a curiosity too many are forced to abandon after childhood. It is always good to question. Question the world, the rules, authority, but also question yourself.
Being wrong isn’t what’s bad. It’s refusing to allow for the possibility of being wrong, or clinging to what’s wrong because there is just no possible way you can be not right, which is killing us.
Let it go. Be wrong. It’s okay.