On Being Right

written by Glen Aaron on July 14, 2011

It is interesting how important it is to each of us to be right, and when we are, it seems most important that we are recognized for being right, now and forever more.

I wonder how much stress is self-imposed by this constant urge to be right.  It surfaces quite often in personal relationships, marriage and friendships.  It is intense in both religious and political beliefs, opinions and debates.  As I look around me, I come to think that this must be the mainstream of daily life, even down to minute detail.

Take driving down the road for example.  The mentality of driving seems for most to be “I’m right.  You’re wrong.”  On a larger scale, what are lawsuits and courts about?  The whole idea is “who’s right?”  We have even codified massive rules for determining so.

Then there is the other side of the right/wrong coin.  That would be the emptiness of learning that you were right.  The story of North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan comes to mind in the midst of today’s national economic recession caused by exotic new derivatives called “swaps”.  Way back in 1994, as the first seeds of these type financial instruments were being planted and later exploded into geometrical progression, Senator Dorgan warned that without proper oversight the trading of these securities could get out of hand.

Five years later, when Congress passed legislation lowering the barriers between brokerage houses and banks, indeed allowing banks to become brokerage houses and vice-versa, Sen. Dorgan told The New York Times, “I think we will look back in 10 years’ time and say we should not have done this.”  It’s been 10 years, and Dorgan was dead-on.

Yesterday, he told Newsweek “I saw the development of these complicated financial instruments . . . and it occurred to me that it’s an unbelievable amount of risk.  I introduced several pieces of legislation to regulate it, but my warnings were widely ignored.”

How many people today know that Sen. Dorgan was right?  For that matter, how many even know who he is?  It is important to be right when you are right, but how many times are the ones insisting they are right, wrong instead?  History is replete with that scenario as well.  There never seems to be an easy balance, but from the highest national or religious office to the lowest common person, the humanoid nature is that we must always be right, whether we are or not.


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