The Freedom to be Wrong

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing and that is that I know nothing”-Socrates

Have you ever been in a discussion with someone where they always have something to prove? Where no matter what you say or do to close the conversation out amicably, they just have to get the last word in? Where they go on listing all the ways you are incorrect while blissfully unaware of their own obtuseness? Maybe the better question is, who here has this not happened to?

Or perhaps you are that person who just can’t let go?  I know I can sure be! While I like to think I’ve gotten better at checking myself when this urge arises, there are certainly times when I eagerly jump headfirst down the rabbit hole of “trying to win the point.”

At times it is necessary and proper to show someone where and why they are going wrong. The tough part is separating that from an ego that looks to fulfill itself by putting down others.   Does your reaction really stem from a noble desire to inform or do insecurities play a role in having to convince that person that you are right and they are wrong?

I would argue in today’s America we are seeing more of the latter at play and it’s contributed greatly to our divisiveness. For societies to advance it is essential that the free exchange of ideas be protected. It is also important to think the best of your fellow man and assume that no matter how big your disagreement is, they are coming from a place of good intentions.

Everyone gets this concept and will say they agree with it, until they hear an opinion they don’t like. Shutdown mode often kicks in and the other person suddenly morphs in to the devil’s spawn or worse, a rube too stupid to know he is being manipulated by one. Their words from that point on don’t matter because in your mind you’ve invalidated them. You are right and they are wrong, discussion over.

This is a sad and stifling way to live. I used to struggle with this and honestly sometimes still do. Thankfully, God has patiently shown me over the years my human ability to be spectacularly wrong and be ok with it. The paradigm fully shifted 180 degrees when I finally realized just how little I know and oh how freeing that was!

Once this concept sunk in I started noticing that conversations became much more authentic and satisfying. As the strong urge to prove my points melted away, the divine spark inside the other person shone more clearly and I felt eager to learn their perspective on things. This doesn’t mean I always agreed with them, but I accepted they could be right about some things and respected them too much to beat them over the head with my views.  Truth be told, sometimes I still do but it’s become less frequent.

The Bible mentions the words humble, meek and patience a lot and with good reason. It is impossible to love your fellow man without humbling yourself with the knowledge that there are things they know that you do not and that you are both of equal stature in God’s eyes.

Really, even that awful bully who converses through insult and by shoving highly processed nonsense masquerading as profound thought in your face?  Yes, even that guy. And while you may or may not be in the “right” in your discussions with him, a certain level of respect is due for the simple reason that he is a fellow human being, loved, valued and brought in to the world by God.

Any fool can study one area and become an “expert” and thus proclaim to know everything, which imprisons the mind. The wise man however, by opening himself up to things he is unsure about realizes just how little he knows compared to what’s out there.

Worshipping your own intelligence can be just as destructive as any other false idol. Empower yourself and others by embracing the freedom to be wrong.




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43 Responses to The Freedom to be Wrong

  1. Al says:

    Excellent post. The odd thing for me this: as a non-confrontational person I usually back down from a heated argument, even when I feel I’m right, just to keep a relationship amiable. The very rare occasions when I get emotional and try to “bully” someone to my point of view are invariably the times that I’m wrong, as I realize later. Go figure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Isn’t it funny Al how that works? Actually a lot of people don’t realize this at all and continue on as a bully. From what I’ve seen, I like the way you handle contemptuous topics, you don’t seem to be a man that needs to prove himself, which shows admirably.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wally Fry says:

    Seriously, though. If you have an issue with me, e mail would have been better than just tossing my shortcomings out in public. Really. Gosh


    You are correct, this time in a really serious note. If one person will just do what you said, and put their ego aside, then talking does become more productive. I am learning that slowly, and it has helped me vastly. If one just doesn’t argue, the conversation either improves, or the person who want to argue goes away.

    I am still all for a real discussion and even debate, but not stupid senseless arguing just to be right

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tricia says:

      LOL Wally! Yeah, I guess I should have just emailed you directly….;)

      Actually you are last person that comes to mind when I think of a bully. We all fall short here I think, I know I certainly do. It’s important to debate over important things but I agree it becomes senseless if one or both parties are there merely to argue.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Amen! Well said. A big part of wisdom actually involves listening, not teaching. I’m a mom, I just want to teach people everything, save then some heart ache. Well, sometimes I want to cause them some heart ache too, but usually that’s not wisdom speaking. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Well thanks IB. You are so right about the importance of listening; this is very hard to do when all we are thinking about is how to make the next point, or cause some heartache. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  4. JunkChuck says:

    Great post–I’ve experienced this a lot, occasionally even realizing I’m doing it myself, which is humbling.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dennis says:

    There is a reason God gave us two (2) ears and one (1) mouth. You have just given a few of the reasons why He designed us that way. Bravo!
    Of course if your in sales and trying to make a living it’s hard to stop “selling” and start “listening”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ColorStorm says:

    Hey we’re crossing paths! Funny thing, I was thinking yesterday about the accumulation of knowledge that we have at our disposal, instantly even, and how we can actually choke on information, without processing it, chewing the cud, bringing it up for consideration again and again.

    Then I thought of the vast wealth of truth even, and compared to God, how it must be a mere eye drop in the oceans of the world. ‘Eye has not seen, ear has not heard’ kinda thing, then again, God does delight in sharing his deep things with us.

    And as you say, there is a potential danger, as if it is OUR knowledge, or OUR truth. No, it is not my truth, or yours, but we can share it. Experts though? I tire of the word ‘experts.’ Ha, insects are specialists, we are no insect.

    But you are right though, there is power in admitting we are weak, feeble, peccable, while maintaining God is flawless. Good stuff trish.


    • Tricia says:

      I do so enjoy when our thought paths cross ColorStorm. “Choke on information”, oh indeed yes! There is so much out there we just don’t know, God must just laugh at our nonsense. We can of course always share His truths as you say.

      One thing I do know is to never trust anyone who calls themselves an expert. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • It seems to me that the free and instant access to information has cost humanity something important.

      It has happened before: Up to the 1400s, humans in general had well-developed memories, and the scholars among us memorized entire manuscripts word for word, and painstakingly accumulated knowledge by deep reading and understanding. Then Gutenberg developed the printing press (in the face of yet another plague on the planet: an attorney stole it from him).

      Soon, in the space of a few generations, one no longer needed to remember entire manuscripts worth of knowledge; you can acquire the thing as a book and have it one your shelf. The ability to memorize giant chunks of information, no longer exercised, was lost to most cultures.

      But where was it not lost? In a culture that by its nature excluded the printing press and its output. You can see this coming, especially if you happen to know that these printing presses were cleaned and inked with brushes made from hog-bristles.

      Islam, which holds a tremendous antipathy against the pig and all pig-derived products, and since anything they printed would include invocations to Allah, allowing a pig bristle brush to come into contact with that word was intolerable. So, during the 1500s when the “Gutenberg” press spread across most countries, it does not make it into the Islamic world. It wasn’t until 1798 when the press arrived in Alexandria, Egypt — brought by the conquering Napoleon Bonaparte. He used it right away to print propaganda fliers to the Muslims of Alexandria (“Mamluks”) encouraging them to welcome their new masters:

      People of Egypt, they have told you that I come to destroy your religion, but do not believe it; in reply I come to restore your rights, punish the usurpers and that I respect God, his prophet and the Qur’an more than the Mamluks. … Thrice happy are those who will be with us! They shall prosper in their fortune and in their rank. Happy are those who will be neutral! They will get to know us over time, and join their ranks with ours. But unhappy, thrice unhappy, are those who shall arm themselves [to fight] for the Mamluks and who shall fight against us! There shall be no hope for them, they shall perish.

      This was rendered in horrifically bad Arabic. It worked for a little while, in combination with Bonaparte’s 20-to-1 kill ratio against Egyptian forces, but the French were forced out after a couple of years of battling the Marmuks internally, the Ottoman Empire externally, and their old enemies the British. And the plague, which killed as many French as their human enemies.

      In any event, the printing press did not catch on there; its use was sparing indeed and that is still true. Today, the output of first world countries in original printed works is something like 100 times that of Sharia law-controlled nations, and similar numbers hold for translations of scholarly works from English to local languages.

      But … as a result of the scarcity of (and disdain for) printed works, these Islamic cultures retained their ability to memorize. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, what they memorized was usually the Qur’an, the focus of their culture. Islam has various ranks for people who have memorized all or part of this book.

      Now we see a great information-distribution change again, with cellphones and laptops making access to any sort of information trivial and near instantaneous. The net result is a further shallowing of human intellectual ability. Essentially, not only have we lost memorization ability now, we have largely lost the ability to learn. Why learn something if you can look up anything you need to know? This progresses to a lack of desire and even lack of ability to look it up. Why bother?

      This means, in practice, a great reduction in understanding once again. And that bodes great ill for societies around the world.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 3 people

      • ColorStorm says:

        Interesting take there keith, nice work. Knowledge is always a danger, a curse, and a blessing. Your observation re. learning and quick results is spot on.

        Look at any computer system with instant access to reams of data, and ‘it’ is no more smarter than a canary that can’t tie its shoes. Your memory thoughts were awesome,and the inspiration to remember long works in print appears to have gone by the wayside by today’s teachers.

        Along these lines, even the prayers of David and Solomon were ‘off the charts’ in memory content, and to make the connection with the post above, the ones ‘wronged’ were only wronged because they did not agree with the interpretation, they had no problem with the facts.

        But Shariah………geez, sorry, it hurts to even say the word.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tricia says:

        Well that sure is a noggin full of interesting information Keith and what you say makes a lot of sense. I do fear for what the future will bring our already shallow and attention span challenged culture. Yes, why bother to learn anything at all with Google around 24/7? Why get in to anything of substance that challenges us when we can waste time navel gazing about such serious things like diversity and sustainability and social justice? Sheesh, we are primed and ready as sitting ducks for a ruthless takedown by a society that actually takes itself seriously.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Am I the only one who spotted Keith’s admission, above, to being a VERY old geezer?

        His third sentence spilled the beans:

        “Up to the 1400s, humans in general had well-developed memories, and the scholars among us memorized entire manuscripts word for word, and painstakingly accumulated knowledge by deep reading and understanding.”


        – Jeff

        Liked by 3 people

        • Tricia says:

          Old but very wise…;)

          Liked by 1 person

        • Stand with me on Man’s old planet
          Gazing north when sky has darkened
          Follow down the Dipper’s handle
          Half again and veering westward
          Can you see it? Can you sense it?
          Nothing there but cold and darkness
          Try again with both eyes covered
          Try once more with inner vision
          Hearken now to wild geese honking
          Sounding through the endless spaces
          Bouncing off the strange equations—
          There it glistens! Hold the vision
          Warp your ship through crumpled spaces
          Gently, gently. Do not lose it!

          Virgin planet, new beginnings
          Woodrow Smith, of many faces
          Many names, and many places
          Led this band to New Beginnings
          Planet clean and bright as morning
          End of line, he told his shipmates
          Endless miles of untouched prairie
          Endless stands of uncut timber
          Winding rivers, soaring mountains
          Hidden wealth and hidden dangers
          Here is life or here is dying
          Only sin is lack of trying

          Grab your picks and grab your shovels
          Dig latrines and build your hovels
          Next year better, next year stronger
          Next year’s furrows that much longer
          Learn to grow it, learn to eat it
          You can’t buy it; learn to make it!
          How d’you know until you’ve tried it?
          Try again and keep on trying—

          The above is from Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein, to the best of my ability to recall it, beginning on page 252 and which forms the beginning of The Tale of the Adopted Daughter. It is one of my favorite love stories, perhaps the favorite.

          But I don’t have vast tracts memorized. I would be unimpressive indeed among past generations. The one thing I can boast of is something of a trick memory for song lyrics; not a useful talent.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 3 people

        • Citizen Tom says:

          Does it count if I feel that old?

          Liked by 2 people

      • Keith,

        Not everyone can remember whole manuscripts. Only a select few with high IQ’s can do that.

        Books, and later calculators and computers and still later, wide area networks, opened up the treasure house of human knowledge and wisdom gained over the ages, to the common man.

        A low born peasant like me can read and study Plato and Aristotle and the Founding Fathers like only the aristocracy of yore could do.

        And isn’t it better to understand how something actually works according to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” than to simply memorize large quantities of information?

        Liked by 1 person

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  8. jncthedc says:

    Accepting the reality of “getting it wrong” provides a lesson to grow from. Those striving for PERFECTION will ALWAYS experience some form of failure along the way. Those striving to LEARN will ALWAYS grow from life’s experiences. Life is dynamic, therefore, what’s true today need not be true tomorrow. Learning flexibility and tolerance can reduce stress in life while adding quality. Proving others wrong doesn’t alter one’s status in life. Sharing information that can positively influence the lives of others does. Improving oneself to become a “better person” contributes to the enrichment of our society. This, in my opinion, is more important than satisfying one’s personal need to always be “right.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Oh I love what you say about sharing information to positively influence others as opposed to proving them wrong. We are all in this thing called life together and those help others truly does alter their status for the better as well as those they help.

      Thanks so much as always for your positive contribution.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Citizen Tom says:

    Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    Worth a read.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is an excellent post that presents a treasure trove of discussion topics.

    For example, if people express so many opinions about so many very important things that affect everyone’s lives and wellbeing, how can that no be divisive?

    Consequently, wound divisiveness not be a good thing, an expression of freedom seen in living things only in human nature?

    Also, on questions of good and evil, how can there ever be any agreement.

    If fact, it seems that evil, at all times and in all places, works aggressively to wipe out the good.

    Should good people sit passively by and watch themselves and all they love, be destroyed?

    Yes, divisiveness is good for without it evil triumphs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Thanks SOM for your comment. I do absolutely agree with open debate and expressing opinions, especially if battling evil and lack of truth. It is a sign of a healthy society that respects individuals and what I fear we are losing here in the U.S.

      What I don’t like is when discussing, debating, etc…turns more personal, where one or both parties are just trying to overcome inner insecurities by “needing” to be right. It leads to all sorts of silly and unnecessary rabbit hole conversations.


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  12. irtfyblog says:

    As a light shines in the darkness and reveals the way, so are these words to the soul and conscience of every human who read them.

    Very well done, Tricia!

    Liked by 1 person

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