Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Importance of Being Right

How important is being right?

For me? Very. Very, very, very important.

Being right brings a sense of comfort and stability. It means that I am, in fact, processing and using information correctly. It means I get what's going on. It means I'm in touch with the world via facts and figures. It means I understand. It means I'm smart.

Being right means other people are wrong. If I'm right, and being right makes me smart, then people who are wrong are stupid. Not only are they stupid, but they must also have other severe character flaws. This is a theory of mind issue- it's very difficult to think the best of someone and their motives if I think they're wrong about something. I have to manually go through the process of telling myself that a) I might *not* be right, b) they might not be wrong, c) if they're wrong, they have valid reasons for it, and d) those reasons don't make them a bad person.

For example: creationism. If I learn that someone is a creationist, I decide that they must also hate science, hate knowledge, hate books, and generally just hate everything I like. They hate puppies and rainbows and snowstorms.

And therein lies the rub: that kind of thinking makes me wrong. It doesn't matter if I'm right that there is no God, right that evolution is real, right about any of that. The fact is that if someone believes in creationism, that's it. They believe in creationism. Any further characterization of that person is wrong, even if they really are a big old dummy who hates everything good in the world. I can't make that assumption based on one wrong belief that they hold.

I like facts. Facts are things that are true, and they're true for everyone. I like social rules, like Express Lane item limits. It's difficult to navigate in a world that is designed for people who understand social cues and norms innately, not for people like me, who struggle to know what's right and what's wrong. When people deny facts that I know to be true, it feels as though they've cut ahead of me in line with too many items in their cart. It feels like they're personally slighting me, because they can't follow the rules, can't agree that some things are just true.

Do I like being right? Yes.
Are there times that I like being wrong? No.
Do I want more than anything to be wrong about what's going on with my kid?


I am working hard to open myself up to the idea that Sunshine has a speech delay, Sunshine has sensory issues, Sunshine has communication issues, and that's all we need to know right this instant. She could have autism. She could have OCD. She could have heart disease in 30 years. She could be a wonky two-year-old. She could have something I've never even heard of.

I am just her mom. Yeah, I'm bright and I read a lot, but I'm not a specialist. Even if I was, I don't have the objectivity to diagnose my own kid. I think she's "spectrumy," but that doesn't mean I'm right.

And I really, really hope I'm wrong.


  1. I enjoy your writing, it makes me miss you though!! I'm glad you are including all of "us" in the internet world in your adventure, for lack of an Erin-type word.
    Your girls are beautiful, just like their mother!
    Love, your Alabama neo-con

  2. Right and wrong are not universal, do not exist without a state of relativity, and are therefore, not definitive or absolute. Absolutes and definitives do not exist in our world of "present" or "future" and can only exist in the past... (unless I'm THE solipsist and I'm just making all of this stuff up as I go along of course) 8~P