Ending the War of Being Right
Written by Zero Kazama
How many altercations start, how many relationships end, how many nations split apart simply because being right is held above peace? It’s both hidden and obvious, but always insidious. When we begin to identify with our mental stance, we become partially (or in many cases, fully) unconscious to the fact that it’s not all of who we are. An idea becomes an absolute doctrine, faith becomes a reason for violence, and all unquestionable because they are for the “right” reasons. Individuals and nations can become identified by needing to right a past wrong, and this is seen in the perpetual cycle of harm and revenge that plays out too many times as tragic stories on our news feeds.
I’m writing this from the United States just after the nation witnessed not just one, but a couple of trials involving police officers being released without punishment for deaths they were responsible for; trials that have resulted in mass rioting and protest in different areas of the country. To me it serves as evidence that the need for what is perceived to be right action, and the denial of it, can trigger a sort of collective madness; a righteous madness that seems to be woven deep into the human psyche. On the macroscopic level it seems that there’s little we can do about the wrong-doings of the past except keep a fragile peace that’s tied together by hopes of forgiveness, change or justice. There is, though, something simple we can implement on the level of individual consciousness, where all change begins.
Start by noticing the impulsive defense mechanism in yourself that engages whenever you feel your beliefs, or what you believe to be factual and right, become questioned. It’s very easy to feel when your mind and body respond to such “threats”, as if under physical attack, intellectual weapons at the ready. Those who are familiar to this feeling and consciously know how to manage it well are innately aware of this, while those who haven’t exercised much awareness over this near-involuntary response may have to take some time to separate themselves from such an impulse. The key here is to catch this kind of automatic defense mechanism as it happens and before you respond, and then do the exact opposite of what our egos want us to do: assume we just might actually be wrong.
This isn’t “giving up” or a forced and often sarcastic “OK I’M WRONG THEN!” in hopes to silence the other party. Rather, this is a way to reach an equilibrium of “might”, we might be wrong even though our impulse immediately says that we’re right. It’s simply an emotionally neutral point where a situation can be assessed and handled in a non-charged manner, usually for the best of all parties.
When the priority of peace is at the forefront instead of our need to be right, we start the dialogue differently. We start with a dialogue based on understanding and respect rather than establishing dominance. Openness to another’s point of view can only add to who we are and develop our skills of empathy while educating us. For instance, I’ve heard quite often of people taking offense to a cashier handing money on the table instead of in their hands. They instantly assumed it was a sign of disrespect when the cashier’s intent was the complete opposite, according to their culture. Simply being open to the fact that we might not be seeing the same thing as everyone else can help us see the world differently, and perhaps with new eyes.
ZERO KAZAMA is an actor, producer and stuntman most recognised for his role as the host of MTV’s hit show Silent Library and Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior.