What a wonderful talk by Kathryn Schulz from TED2011. Essentially, her reasons why we try to maintain we are right amount to various ugly forms of pride. And the Gospel says, that pride needs to be brought low in the humility of saying in confession to God, “I was wrong.” Then, it is God who makes us right – in theological jargon, he ‘justifies’ us.
I would add to that an issue of fear: when we are afraid of how someone might react, we defensively entrench ourselves in our position of ‘rightness’, even when we know in our hearts we are wrong. So how liberating the Gospel is that we can confess our wrongness to a God of grace and mercy. It is the character of God that makes an admission of our wrong more possible.
Then note how right at the end of the talk she links her theme to the rediscovery of wonder. To quote her exact words:
if you really want to rediscover wonder, you need to step outside of that tiny, terrified space of rightness and look around at each other and look out at the vastness and complexity and mystery of the universe and be able to say, “Wow, I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong.”
That’s profound, isn’t it? We don’t get to a true sense of wonder through our own rightness. It involves acknowledging we are wrong – just as major scientific advances often happen not by incremental improvement on previous foundations, but on paradigm shifts from what was previously accepted. In Christian terms, it again goes hand in hand with accepting God’s outlook on things.
Or am I wrong? 🙂
I think you’re right “On Being Wrong”, Dave, but I could be wrong! 🙂
Pride is a great bulwark against showing people who you really are – maybe they will like me better, respect me more, if I’m clever, interesting, funny, etc. Pride is especially ugly when we need to make other people small so we are “bigger”.
I can say that working with children is especially humbling. And raising my own four children with all the messiness and love involved has been humbling. But most of all, as you say, being able to confess to God “I was wrong”. And I’ve done that plenty of times!
Thanks for a great post, Dave.
Debbie will tell you I hate being wrong, so it was a hard post to write, short as it is! However, I found Schulz’ talk so inspiring, that led to me to type away!