Wednesday, January 4, 2017

When It Feels Good to Be Wrong

I've been struggling to come up with what to write that last few months but after a recent issue that has come up in the public eye, I have something I could go on about for hours and that's a good thing because it's actually quite a beautiful irony in my own life and others as well I'm sure.

If you haven't, watch National Treasure with Nicolas Cage.  It's a really cool movie.  For those who haven't seen it, the movie is about the hunt for the Templar Treasure.  Ben Gates (Cage) is following clues, built by the Free Masons into things like the liberty bell tower, the dollar bill, the declaration of independence, all of which most people believe are just radical, ridiculous conspiracies that are just a bunch of hogwash.  But Ben believes the treasure exists and ends up finding all the clues, that they are all completely real and just before the end, they find what they think should be the treasure room in a series of underground caves, from what the room looks like, but there's no treasure there.

Ben's father Patrick (Jon Voigt) has been reluctantly pulled into the treasure hunt by that point and has believed the whole time that they're just searching for nothing, that Ben is delusional and overly obsessed.  However, when they find the supposed treasure room, Ben gets discouraged because there's no treasure there and Patrick says this: "This room is real, Ben.  And that means the treasure is real.  We're in the company of some of the most brilliant minds in history because you found what they left behind for us to find, and understood the meaning of it.  You did it, Ben, for all of us - your grandfather and all of us." and this is the awesome part that leads into what I want to talk about, "and I've never been so happy to be proven wrong."

Happy to be wrong about something?  Yup!  I've been there before, too and if you approach that thought from the right angle it feels great.

The issue that I believe warrants my writing about this is the controversy surrounding Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing for Trump's Presidential Inauguration.  I'm not here to talk about whether they should or shouldn't sing (though I think they are setting a Christ-like example by doing so).  I'm also not going to talk about the member who quit the choir because of that event.  I'd like to ask my readers to consider this.  Whether you dislike Trump, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's choice to sing for his event or anything, what if you're wrong?  Whether you think that the kid who was mean to you in school was just a mean-hearted jerk or that one customer service rep was rude to you because they just don't care about anything but money, what if you're wrong?  Perhaps you think that teacher graded you unfairly or that politician is corrupt to the core and has an evil heart or that person who sent you a mean comment on facebook finds some sadistic pleasure from trolling you or seeing you get upset, but what if you're wrong?

Of course there are people who are actually like that, but only God knows the hearts and minds and deep feelings and motives of everyone personally.  Honestly, I do believe that most politicians don't really have as much interest in the public good as they say they do, but do you know how happy I would be if I found out that I was wrong?  If I found that they really are trying their best to look out for everyone under their jurisdiction?  I would be ecstatic to know that that customer service rep was just having a bad day and wished they could correct their mistake.  I would be overjoyed to find out that someone I love who appears to be losing their faith is just going through a phase and that they would come out of it stronger.

There are so many examples of assumptions we make about negative things, in politics, religious, social drama, etc. that we would be so much happier about if we found out that we are wrong.  Does Trump seem like he will be a terrifying tyrant of a president?  To many, yes.  And their fears and frustrations are real.  But what if they're wrong?  That would be a huge relief for them to find out, right?  I personally believe that Obama was the worst president in the history of the world, that his presidency was littered with scandals and tyranny, broken promises, carelessness and brazen dishonesty, but I would also love it if I found out that many of the negative things I've heard about him are simply misrepresentations of truth or even complete lies.

We all say we all hope for and desire a better world, but do we really?  A lot of us today seem to seek more for the latest bombshell about that one bad thing that person did and find entertainment in speaking our mind against perceived injustices.  This is ridiculous.  Part of our purpose in this life is to be happy.  With society as saturated as it is with bad news and more bad news and more bad news, you would think that if people really wanted to be and stay happy that they would be looking for reasons to disbelieve negative news about people.

One good way to do this, I believe, is to consider the last part of this quote (don't know the source):

Small minds talk about people
Average minds talk about events
Great minds talk about ideas

I shake my head in disbelief when I see people obsessing about that one reality show, the "racist", "bigoted" or "sexist" statement made on social media when there are things much more deserving of our attention, good things that needs to be given more attention so that people have reason to rejoice about the good in the world.

Am I suggesting that we disregard the negative things that, to be sure, happen everywhere?  Of course not.  There are seemingly countless people in legitimately really hard circumstances who need our help, empathy, condolences, etc.  But with all that kind of thing in the world today, does it not make sense to seek for reasons to disbelieve that rumor about that celebrity or to doubt that that person who cut you off on the road today is a bad driver?  Maybe their father or sister is sick and they are scared and are trying to get there as fast as possible.  You'd feel better knowing that people are better than you think they are.  You'd likely feel more peace knowing that you are mistaken and that there's really nothing to worry about.

There's already enough negative things that actually do happen and enough people who really do have evil in their hearts all the time.  I'd say it's about time we stop succumbing to the hype that news sources try to induce for the sake of "controversy" and "attention" and shift our focus to good people, great ideas, hard work, forgiveness, love, great achievements, cheering for the underdog, celebrating goodness, truth, courage and honesty.  I'd say it's about time we stop being afraid to say about our negative perceptions of people, "I hope I'm wrong."