Nelson Ebong

Nelson Ebong

29 Apr 2021

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Our interpretation of "right" and "wrong" is as diverse and multifaceted as there can be people willing to front there positions on the subject. This explains why in every aspect of living there are different perspectives on otherwise same root subjects: we have those branded Democratic and others perceived as "Dictators", on the religious front their are as diverse religious beliefs and traditions as there are human communities, you have Marxist, Socialist and Communist brandings, in families you have parents and their children of various ages always differing on standards of right and wrong, and the youth now have their interesting term " HATERS" which insinuates that the others are "lovers" whatever that means.

On some occasions, the difference in perception is so big that the behaviour of another comes as a shock to the observer whose standard of " right" differs from the person in action. It is these differences that lead us to brand those of the opposite perception as bad, ignorant, opposition, "wrong" and the extremes such as 'idiots'.

These categorisations of each other based on differences in perceptions of "right" and "wrong" is a cause of much of the conflicts and confrontations in our world which makes it a subject worth our concern. Many fights between individuals and groups, in families and communities, in small to multinational businesses have started with as simple statements as 

"you always think you are the only one who is " right"

"Do you think I am stupid (read ' wrong'?"

"You do not accept other people's opinions"

In all the above, you will observe that its a case of who is "right" and who is "wrong". David Bonnstetter in his Foreward to Thomas Erickson's book entitled "" Surrounded By Idiots" acknowledges this predicament when he says, 

"It is both easy and dangerous to categorize someone who behaves differently from you as ignorant, wrong, or even thickheaded."

Yes, its DANGEROUS to brand each other negatively (read "wrong") yet so easy to do so and we do so so often, yes even daily, whether directly or indirectly.

IS IT POSSIBLE therefore for us to more peacefully coexist in this situation of conflicting viewpoints of " right " and "wrong"? YES DEAR, IT'S POSSIBLE!

That leads us to THE HOW? Again, there can be as many approaches on the HOW depending on how much we are willing to allow discussions on the subject. However, a key strategy is to make diligent genuine effort to understand why the other person has a different perception from ours. This understanding once achieved enables you to better predict the persons reactions to your perceived " right " actions or utterances leading to better informed reactions from your side, in turn, mitigating any possible "wrong" results resulting from your branding the other "wrong". 

Understanding the other person is however made difficult by a common defensive human nature of listening to respond or to prove ourselves "RIGHT" which creates similar but to us "WRONG" reaction from the other side. 

So HOW can we then understand the other side? By LISTENING TO UNDERSTAND their perceived "right" not listening to defend our position which might be "right" to us but perceived as "wrong" in the "right" eyes of the other side.

 This reaching an appropriate understanding helps us either to adjust our own position or CHOOSE not to predominantly belong in the other's ("wrong") environment except when beneficially necessary within bearable and acceptable means both sides. 

Remember too that UNDERSTANDING why they take their "RIGHT" position will help you either adjust your own or appreciate and accommodate theirs which to you may have previously rightfully seemed very "WRONG". Yes one's being right does not necessarily make the other wrong and the reverse is true!

Our own self understanding is also important in mitigating the troubles that arise from the clashes  between perceived " right" or "wrong". A better understanding of yourself helps you choose the environment dominated by those like you and also helps you adjust when you find yourself in the other environment where standards vary from yours: (its advisable to avoid spending much time in the the other's (read " wrong ") environment to escape occurrences of confrontational categorisations of them and to not sacrifice your " RIGHT " standards .

In other words, peaceful coexistence between the two unavoidable perceptions calls for 

a) being accommodative based on first acquiring an adequately informed accurate understanding of the other side 

b) choosing our predominant environment and or associations based on proper understanding of our OWN SELVES. This is because being "wrong" is mostly because we have put ourselves in an environment/ situation that fits us NOT.

A very important note and precaution to heed in this regard is Thomas Erickson's advice on page 93 of his recommendable book prior mentioned, he says

"The aspiration of having everyone in agreement about everything all the time is an impossible Utopia and not even worth trying to achieve"

In essence, he is telling us that we are in a better position if we accept the existence of our "RIGHT" as our "right" and the others' "WRONG" as their "right" then find our place of belonging and protecting among our fellow 'rights' while respectfully coexisting when circumstances dictate that the two sides come together, which is unavoidable in this intertwined world.

BUT, BUT, if we genuinely belief that we are "wrong" in our environment of choice, IT IS POSSIBLE and highly recommended that we adjust to its RIGHT standards however long it might take and however tedious it might seem, its worth the energy if that's where we find our peace,  fulfilment and enablement to contribute positively to humanity!

Is "right" different from "wrong"?

By now we can assert that they are both perceptions based on why we do what we do as perceived by those who also do or do not do what we do do because of their own perceptions about the same 

WHY THE COVER PICTURE? A person may impulsively think its "WRONG" for the two cover photo boys to be in the Shamba (Kiswahili word for farm/ garden) instead of school. The "blamer" may blame the mother for "WRONG" behaviour towards these lovely kids. 

But a genuine effort to understand the WHY reveals that these kids are:

a) the definition of pure love for their only baby sister whom no one is allowed to touch anyhow, that's why armed with their stone propelling hunting weapons, they have accompanied their mother to the shamba to carry and protect their baby sister and hunt birds too while mum concentrates on earning for them, which is "RIGHT" decision and behavior by one perception. To someone else, its "WRONG" because they should be in school. But, let's get to bullet (b)

b) they are in a COVID19 lockdown country where schools are closed and being opened selectively. Henceforth, it is effective and profitably productive utilisation of their excessive extra free time by being "helpful" to their loving peasant mother. This second understanding emphasises the need for making diligent effort to understand why the other side's behaviour may be considered contradictory (WRONG) in comparison to ours before categorising them negatively with the likely resultant lose of peaceful coexistence.

RIGHT AND WRONG: Are they different? By now I might say yes and you might say no or vice versa, but bottom line is  that we, as psychologist Carl Jung puts it:

"...we asses and appraise each other through what we see that we do"

meaning that right and wrong are relative terms depending on who we are and the predominant orientations that determine why and how we do what we do when we do them.

Thus we suffer when we force ourselves on environments with limitations on our understanding of what "right" is

Thus we impose suffering on others when we invade their environments and attempt to force what our perceived "wrong" is

Always LISTEN to understand if your right really is right to determine if the other's wrong should actually not be the correct RIGHT for you both,

Us all doing so, mitigates the trouble manufacturing intangible yet ever present insistences on "right" and "wrong",

Yes,  us all doing so, makes IT POSSIBLE for the perceptive concepts of right and wrong to coexist unconfrontationally

Somewhere somehow, we merge in the right understanding of " RIGHT" and "WRONG" when the situation is ideal which should but isn't always!

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Nelson Ebong
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Nelson Ebong

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