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July/August, 2019

When We Can Say We Were Wrong


Admitting When We Are Wrong

Recently, the words of a new song inspired me.  I Was Wrong was written by a group called Bailen.  They said they’d been thinking about sources of conflict and how we can avoid and heal them.  I had been thinking about the same thing.

The lyrics:

Lend an ear.

We sure can talk but can we hear?
Years won’t make you wise if you don’t try to listen.

Nothing’s gonna change ‘til we all can say…

I believe that I was wrong.

We move along, move along, if we can say
I believe that I was wrong.

One thing is for sure:  if we remain stuck in our view, conflict escalates.  We’re seeing evidence of inflexibility and rigid, polarized views in the world around us. This creates confusion and concern for many. That’s why it’s important for professional athletes, movie stars, politicians, and leaders of any kind to set an example of being broadminded.

I remember when Zidane, a top soccer player from France, lost his temper in a match.  Although the other player deliberately provoked him with a racial slur, the next day Zidane went on air to say, I was wrong.  I admired that, and pointed it out as a good example to my grandson Sasha who plays soccer.

Gaining a Broader View

How easily can each of us say, “I was wrong?’ We too have a responsibility to avoid rigid thinking.

I recall a story by Stephen Covey: One night at sea, a ship’s captain finds that a ship is in his sea-lane and refuses to move.  The captain commands the other ship to move starboard. The other ship refuses and tells him that he should move his ship. Next, the captain pulls rank, stating that he’s on a large battle ship. The other replies, and says that he’s manning a lighthouse.

This story demonstrates effectively the crucial principle of keeping an open mind.  It is important for us to learn as much as possible about any situation before voicing our opinions or pronouncing others wrong.  We need to ask questions, listen to all sides and be flexible.

We can also expand our horizons to better appreciate diversity.  Reading, travel, films and open discussion all offer the opportunity to learn more about other cultures, political ideologies, religious beliefs and unique ways of living.  We can realize that many of the distinctions we thought were right or wrong are simply different, and there is no need for conflict.

Life is rarely black and white, and there is great joy in discovering the nuances of color that exist.  When we experience these with a broadened perspective, our lives are enriched and we make the world a better place.