The Other I

March 27, 2011

Of course I’m right!

I learned from an early age from my lawyer father that if you know you are right, the approach that is going to make you look absolutely brilliant is to explore with all apparent sincerity the possibility that you are wrong.  That way, when your original position is vindicated, you look simply brilliant.

That may be where I first developed a deep distrust for people who are absolutely, nonnegotiably certain they are right about almost anything.

Lately, though, I’ve had the uncomfortable feeling that I am practicing a little more of this certainty myself than is good for me.  I am constantly outraged by the news and I read articles that are just as outraged.  The right seems so obviously right, wrong so demonstrably wrong, if not immoral, stupid, and self-destructive.

The discontent and lack of peace that this outrage brings me does not impress me, however, as being good for anybody.  And I am increasingly distrusting it in myself.

I was helped along by three separate authors, each of whom seems to think his or her evaluation of Western and Arab nations actions in relation to Colonel Gaddafi and Libya is obviously insightful, generous and moral.  There is a suggestion of outraged anger at all the stupid, self-serving people who disagree with them.

The problem is that each of these obviously right arguments are completely different.

One says that our intervention is high-lighting our true imperialist mission.

Another says that we are meeting a moral responsibility to stop genocide and protect basic human rights

The third says that if we don’t find a non-violent alternative to either bombing Libya or ignoring what is happening there, we will all be in trouble.

Oh yes.  And Jacob Zuma, the current president of South Africa says that we should stay out of Libya because he is against “regime change.”

So I think I will continue to concentrate a little more in the days to come on realizing that I do not possess the wisdom nor have the responsibility to run the entire world single-handedly.

Despite knowing, of course, that I am right.

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6 Comments »

  1. Love this! Especially how you acknowledge that your moral outrage doesn’t give you peace — constantly being right doesn’t feel “right.” Right?

    It strikes me that your wishing people would be a little more ambivalent about their moral certainties is similar to your wishing they’d be more metaphorical about their theologies (referring to your post of 3/30/11). Isn’t it possible that all three of the authors you read are correct, in a way? Our policy toward Libya can be imperialist *and* protective of human rights *and* a huge mistake we’ll one day regret. We never do anything for just one reason, seems to me. Anyway, an idea.

    I’m signing up to follow your posts on Google Reader! Great stuff!

    Like

    Comment by Chris — March 31, 2011 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

    • Yes, you are right. I do think we need to be ambivalent about our moral certainties. Not that there aren’t some things we should be willing to live – and possibly die – for. But even then, I think we have to face the frightening possibility that, much as we would like to be right, we might be wrong.

      I’ve been browsing through Chrisslist.wordpress.com and have had a kindred spirit feeling. I’m also signing up to follow your blog. It should be an interesting experience.

      Like

      Comment by theotheri — March 31, 2011 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

      • More question marks, fewer exclamation marks, right?

        I feel the same reading through your blog … looking forward to more!

        Like

        Comment by Chris — March 31, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

      • After reading this comment, I wondered if you were a teacher. But having read a few more of your posts, I see that you are a writer. Which makes sense. You would be inclined to understand how often exclamation marks are substitutes for finding the right words. It’s so often like those annoying people who say “I mean, you know” or “wow” instead of expressing an actual thought.

        So more ? and less !. Thank you for the good advice.

        Like

        Comment by theotheri — April 1, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

  2. I’m not sure why but this blog is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later on and
    see if the problem still exists.

    Like

    Comment by zuma crab — March 13, 2013 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

    • No one else has reported a problem that I’m aware of. This blog is hosted by WordPress which hosts thousands of blogs, so if the problem persists you might try another WordPress blog and see if the problem persists. Alternatively, if you do not think the problem is at your end, you could contact WordPress.com. I’m not having any trouble accessing either this or several other WordPress blogs I follow. But it could be that one of their subsidiary computers is down which is causing the sluggish performance you are describing.

      I know the frustration of extremely slow downloads. Thank you for persisting, and for letting me know. I hope the problem is resolved even as we “speak.” The Other I.

      Like

      Comment by theotheri — March 13, 2013 @ 9:58 pm | Reply


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