And then I heard, I am practicing being kind over being right. I took a deep breath, looked her in the eye and told her how I’d heard this phrase recently. We talked about how both of us struggled with the need to be right and how thinking about being kind first and right second could make things less frustrating and hurtful all around.
I refrained from telling her how this would only become more important as she grows into adulthood, inundated with information in a world full of experts, individuals, and groups who prize being right above everything else. I didn’t tell her how the internet allows an insidious anonymity, bringing out the worst in some, or how Facebook leads us to post every thought without considering consequences.
Later, I thought about our conversation and something else I often tell my children: You can’t control what other people say or do. You can only control you. Ask yourself, “Is it helpful? Is it kind?”
This can be so challenging when you are passionate about an issue, when it feels right in your heart, when it soothes your soul, but doesn’t have the same effect on others. You can be kind and still not guarantee that someone else will not be hurt, offended, or frustrated by your views. But in the midst of disagreement, you can choose kindness.
Is it possible to be right and kind? I suppose the bigger question is this: Is it possible to share a view, respond kindly to opposition, to let someone else have the last word, to pass by an antagonistic view without responding, to avoid passive-aggressiveness, and to still be right?
I certainly hope so, because if it’s possible, it starts with me. It starts today.