On Being Always Right

It can be comforting to realise one shares this affliction with almost everyone else on the planet. Being always right is such a burden. It leaves little room for manoeuvre or re-negotiation. One is right, and that is that. If others are too blind or stupid to acknowledge the fact, tant pis. There is, of course, just one small problem, which St Benedict skirts round in today’s chapter of the Rule, RB 44 How the Excommunicated Are to Make Satisfaction: we fail to see that we might possibly be wrong and so persist in our own stubbornness. The pub argument, the family squabble, the ‘heated’ monastic chapter, they all tend to have this in common: we continue to urge our view of things long after a wiser person would have decided enough was enough and the time had come to quieten down a little. Many an argument is lost because it is taken too far or degenerates into name-calling and insults. We need to remember that peace and unity do not just happen. They have to be worked for, and sometimes fought for; and I’d say the best tool or weapon we can use is restraint, especially self-restraint.

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