On Being Right
We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue
It is quite possible that I may be altogether wrong in this idea. My own impression, however, is, that I am right.
We need the interruption of the night
To ease attention off when overtight,
To break out logic in too long a flight,
And ask us if our premises are right.
The Literate Farmer and the Planet Venus
I’ve learned that Jesus is both terribly dangerous and terribly safe. For the proud, he is the biggest threat imaginable. And for the humble, he is the securest refuge.
We will often stop at nothing to avoid cognitive dissonance. We will twist logic, bend reason, conveniently forget facts, invent new stories, even destroy relationships—all in the name of preserving our precious illusion. We’ll sacrifice anything. It really is that important to us. This is how addictions work, and when it comes to our own need to be “right,” well, we’re all addicts who need to be set free.
I never made a mistake in my life; at least, never one that I couldn’t explain away afterwards.
Dissonance theory predicts that we will eventually (and conveniently) forget good arguments made by opponents just as we forget silly arguments we made ourselves. . . . It’s motivated by our need to be right, preserve self-esteem . . . and gradually come to believe in our own lies. Here’s the thing: No one is immune to the need to reduce dissonance, even those who know the theory inside and out. In reality, we’re all suckers for a happy ending, even if it’s one that we have to make up for ourselves or even piece together with tape.
It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I’m right.
Stop being so sure that you are always right, and others wrong. Don’t trust your own opinion, when you find it contrary to that of older men, and especially to that of your own parents. Age gives experience, and therefore deserves respect.
The ideas of right and wrong among the Hebrews are forensic ideas; that is, the Hebrew always thinks of the right and the wrong as if they were to be settled before a judge. Righteousness is to the Hebrew not so much a moral quality as a legal status. The word ‘righteous’ means simply ‘in the right’, and the word ‘wicked’ means ‘in the wrong’. ‘I have [Vol 6: Rom, p. 84] sinned this time’, says Pharaoh, ‘Jehovah is in the right (A.V. righteous), and I and my people are in the wrong (A.V. wicked)’, Exod. 9:27. Jehovah is always in the right, for He is not only sovereign but self-consistent. He is the fountain of righteousness … the consistent will of Jehovah is the law of Israel.
The Prophets of Israel, 1882.
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