An excerpt from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel “Haunted” that I found quite telling of the human condition…
“It’s really not a matter of right and wrong,” Mr. Whittier would say. Really, there is no wrong. Not in our own minds. Our own reality. You can never set off to do the wrong thing. You can never say the wrong thing. In your own mind, you are always right.
Every action you take–what you do or say or how you choose to appear–is automatically right the moment you act.
Mr. Whittier says, “Even if you were to tell yourself, ‘Today I’m going to drink coffee the wrong way…from a dirty boot.’ Even that would be right, because you chose to drink coffee from that boot.”
Because you can never do nothing wrong. You are always right.
Even when you say, “I’m such an idiot, I’m so wrong…” you’re right. You’re right about being wrong. You’re right even when you’re an idiot.
“No matter how stupid your idea,” Mr. Whittier would say, “you’re doomed to be right because it’s yours.”
Maybe there’s truth to that: we are all as right and as wrong as we think we are. Although we are also as right and wrong as others say we are. Perceptions are tricky when they don’t involve an internal reflection. The ability to take a step back and wonder, am I being stubborn or do I just believe strongly in what I’m saying or doing? Will the external perception be that I am stubborn and therefore shunned, or do people respect someone who stands by the courage of his or her convictions? That’s the fine line society seems to dance around.
Take President Bush for example, some view him as completely arrogant and others as a man with strong convictions. Hence one sees him as being wrong and the other as right and in all probability he views himself as never being wrong.
It’s very relevant to political leadership. Max Weber simply attaches charisma to convictions and he gets the ‘charismatic leader’. Eric Wolf calls it ‘psudeo-charisma’; when empires fall because of a leader’s decline in charisma, thus the inability to sustain an ideology and people just stop believing.
We can always see ourselves as being right and never wrong, and even being right about being wrong. But it’s like the tree falling in the forest: if no one’s around to contradict us we are always right simply because I feel we lack the capacity to properly assess ourselves. Right and wrong come to be with the presence of another; the existance of an external perception. In other words darkness is only the absence of light and being right is only the absence of another’s view that you’re wrong: contrast.
Think about it.
You know I’m right.