You Don’t Have to Be Right: Just Be Right Here



I always wonder about people who keep picking a fight.

It seems they’re not interested in discussion, but only saying the contrarian opposite thing just to stir up a heated moment. That’s a one-way monologue, never a two-way street. It’s usually disguised as, “You can’t handle my truth” or “I keep it real.” They begin with the assumption that everyone else needs to be taught and they’re the teacher. “Wisdom perishes with me” and all that. There’s backpedaling and deflecting and doubling down and twisting words to appear like they were always right even when they’re proven wrong.

I don’t know why. Compulsion, maybe, or an addiction to drama, or the desperate urge to protect a fragile ego. Or maybe they never learned how to disagree with compromise, but everyone only catered to them and they always got their way. And despite trying to correct everyone all the time, they can’t stand to be corrected. They physically act out and justify and defend themselves to death, clawing at every straw to win. Win what? I wish I knew. In the end it only loses all of us.

I’m that guy sometimes, too. But I want to be teachable. I want to assume I’m never the smartest guy in the room. That’s okay. I always want to learn, to be able to say, “I’m wrong, and I’m sorry, and I need your help.” To be teachable is freeing. It means we can actually have a conversation. It matters less that we agree, but more that we build a bridge between you and me, that we can see how we got to where we are and how we can keep going. I hope we stay connected—because I cannot see with my own eyes alone.
J.S.


Photo by Mariyan Dimitrov, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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4 Good Words that Were Hijacked for False Agendas

Words have a particular reverence, and when used correctly, they draw a visceral response and call us to the frontlines.

But if you “cry wolf” too many times, the word “wolf” loses meaning. It eventually evokes a shrug, or worse, total neglect when someone is getting killed by a very real wolf.

When words are hijacked for an agenda and become a buzzword, they become nearly cult-like handshakes that are isolated to an ivory tower and only preach to the pre-confirmed choir. Even worse, a buzzword shrieks in shrill tones over the slightest hint of infraction, so the actual word loses power to sincerely cry wolf.

Words meant for a legitimate issue are robbed of legitimacy when they’re the rally cry for a mob spectacle. It seems less like a call to action and more like an inflexible banner of insider-talk, a megaphone accusation in the ear, a circular affirmation behind closed doors. Perhaps ironically, the broader a word is used, the more narrow it becomes, kidnapped as the hostage of a tiny echo-chamber. It’s alienating and incomprehensible.

Gratuitous pandering to the lowest common denominator only tramples the voiceless, and we end up diminishing the very people we were trying to help. Such words become abusive and divisive, highlighting the issues over the actual people. You can only whistle the kids out of the pool so many times until we neglect the drowning.

It’s no wonder that most people exit the building when they see a tribe-abused buzzword. Those words are now so loaded that they only convey a cartoonish, exaggerated parody, and even when used correctly, are seen as catering to a specific subset of people who already agree. Those on the fence of an issue are not fooled, either. Which is endlessly tragic, because these words in their purest form are often about a real wolf that needs to be called out and corrected.

Until we get back to their true meaning, we’ll either be picking up pitchforks at all the wrong things or rolling our eyes at all the right things.

Here are four words we’ve hijacked to the point of oblivion, which we need to reclaim for their true intent.

Continue reading “4 Good Words that Were Hijacked for False Agendas”