MICHAELA MORRIS: Are we too focused on being right?

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

It feels good to be right. The pleasure of validation seems to be hardwired into our brain, and it definitely serves a purpose. Without it, we probably would never grow out of the toddler phase. Every time we wanted something our neighbor had, we’d bite, hit and scratch to take it away from them. The glow of being right helps us delay gratification because we know, well, it’s the right thing to do.
Heaven help us when we’re wrong. It feels rotten. It gets worse when you have to admit you are wrong. The more people you have to admit that to, the worse it feels.
We want others to validate our righteousness by choosing to do the same things. We get offended when someone breaks with what we consider right – like when someone jumps the line. We waited our turn; shouldn’t they have to? We feel gleeful when that line jumper gets bounced to the back of the line. “I told you so,” may in fact be one of the most satisfying phrases in the English language.
I fear our addiction to being right is running amuck. We are so focused on being right, and making sure everyone on Twitter, Facebook and DJournal.com knows it, that we lose sight of our fellow human beings and the common good. While there are bright lines, there’s an awful lot of gray out there in our modern lives.
There are plenty of examples in public life, where people let being right get in the way of the common good, particularly in Congress. But you don’t have to be elected to public office to see the righteous in action. Just head to the playground. Everyone has an opinion on errors in parenting, but how often do we gently give our support to others?
Breast-feeding has become one of these battlegrounds. I consider myself an advocate for breast-feeding. It has a host of benefits, not the least of which is a beautiful bonding experience for mother and child. It’s well worth the effort at the personal and public health levels.
But I don’t think any set of parents should feel less than because breast-feeding doesn’t work for their family. That’s where the pendulum is swinging.
What would happen if we let go of being right and focused on helping each other? Imagine the gains we could make for all our kids if we step down off our soap boxes.
Michaela Gibson Morris is a Daily Journal staff writer. Contact her at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@journalinc.com