Even I don't always agree with my opinion


Who Are You Gonna Believe – Me Or The Pope?

Posted August 31, 2010 by jim young in Lifestyle

– jim young

If you convince me and I convince you
Would there not still be two points of view?
    – Vachel Lindsay

I used to be slightly offended when people would say to me, "You always think you’re right."

It isn’t WHAT they say so much as HOW they say it. The statement always has a derogatory edge to it.

But now I just laugh.

Because it’s true.

I DO always think I’m right.

Doesn’t everyone?

Who in their right mind would open their mouths, be it to make a statement, quote a fact or give an opinion if they DIDN’T think they were right?

Have you ever heard anyone say, "Well I know I’m wrong, but I think this…"?

I’ve heard people say, "I MAY be wrong but…"

What these people are really saying is "I THINK I’m right, but I want to qualify what I say in case you can prove me wrong." And if it turns out they WERE wrong they have the satisfaction of knowing they were really right all along because they prefaced their statement with "I MAY be wrong."

These are generally people with no backbone or conviction that lack self-confidence.

Of course there are also times when I know I’m wrong but I make the statement anyway. That’s when I’m playing the devil’s advocate.

And even then, sometimes I discover I was mistaken about being wrong.

Playing the devil’s advocate can often be a very unpopular thing to do. Especially when people think you usually ARE right in the first place. They already resent you for that.

But when you are playing the devil’s advocate, which is usually taking an unpopular position in the first place, you instil in others a new fear. They will never admit it, but what’s usually going on in their heads is "Oh my god, what if he’s right?" That’s especially scary when they already believe you usually ARE right.

Being the devil’s advocate can be a very lonely and trying experience. But it’s also a very important one.

Because sometimes the whole truth isn’t whole.

Sometimes an undeniable fact is deniable.

And sometimes, somewhere between black and white there are shades of gray.

Where would we be if Columbus hadn’t been the devil’s advocate when he argued that the world wasn’t flat? We’d all be living in Europe. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Europe – it would just be a little more crowded.)

Where would we be if everyone believed Ford had invented the perfect automobile? We’d still be driving Model Ts.

Where would we be if everyone believed Edison had perfected recorded music? We’d be listening to Madonna on the wind-up gramophone. (At least those that actually listen to Madonna would be.)

Of course in examples such as the last two – even Ford and Edison played the devil’s advocate to themselves. That’s what made them great inventors.

I have never made a serious claim that I am always right. But others have made that claim about me. And a lot of people resent me for being right as often as I am.

That often puts me in a position of having to defend myself. It’s kind of like being a champion boxer. There’s always a contender that wants to take me down.

They want to prove me wrong simply because I am most often right.

And when I am wrong, people like to point it out to others. My coworkers even mark these dates on a calendar.

I don’t mind. It’s kind of like Haley’s comet. You want to be there to see it for yourself when it comes by, because it so rarely happens.

The funny thing is, the people who resent me for being right so often are the first ones to call on me when they NEED me to be right about something.

They will come to me not just for advice but more often just to validate what they already know to be right.

Do I think I’m always right? Absolutely.

Do I claim to always BE right? Absolutely not.

And I’ll be the first one to step up to the plate and admit it when I’m wrong.

Do I enjoy being right? Damn straight.

Why wouldn’t I?

And for this reason, unless I’m pretty damn sure I can back up what I say – I tend to keep my mouth shut.

But I’ll tell you this. If you see me arguing with the pope about a biblical topic, you’d be well advised to put your money on me. Not because I think I’m smarter than the pope, but I’m smart enough to know not to argue with the pope unless I’m damn sure I know what I’m talking about.

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