Right vs. Kind
Do you like to be wrong? Me neither. Sometimes my wife says that I’m too much of a perfectionist. Not perfect for sure, but I may take too long to get things done because they aren’t just right. I think I’ve gotten better with that over time. But being right is good and I want to be right, because who wants to look dumb? Not me. But is it always best to be right?
Having a few teenagers and preteens at home means that there is a lot of competition for who is “right” on a regular basis. I’ve learned that my wife and I are not as smart as our children (at least for the moment). But some day they will realize our genius. My youngest is almost nine years old, and that’s good because there are times that she wants to be with her dad, and sometimes she even listens. Many nights my presence is requested to read to her at bedtime. Although she’s probably reading at an 8th grade level, I don’t mind reading to her because I know I need the practice and I also know these times won’t last forever. I’m doing my best to enjoy the present.
Lately we’ve been re-reading the book “Wonder”, which is also a great movie. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about a young boy named August (or Auggie) who was born with health issues that led to several surgeries and operations on his face. Auggie is often ridiculed for his appearance and teased by classmates mercilessly. People he thought were his friends betray him behind his back. He often would wear an astronaut helmet with full face mask in public so that no one would see his face. It’s a lot to ask for a little boy, as if growing up “normal” isn’t hard enough.
As Auggie transitions to a new school he does end up with some good friends and good teachers. Mr. Browne, one of the teachers, poses a monthly precept to the class and he encourages students to develop their own life precepts. The first precept hit home for me: “When given the choice of being right or being kind, choose kind.” Whoa, was that written for me?
As I continue to grow older, I realize that being right isn’t always best. If being right means I alienate my friends or family, is it worth it? In the wisdom of Mr. Browne, I’d say it’s not. In a world lacking kindness, perhaps we can all consider putting aside our pride and consider being kind before being right. There’s nothing wrong with being right, but if you have the choice, choose well. It’s getting late…I think I need to go read another chapter.
“When given the choice of being right or being kind, choose kind.”
- Mr. Browne