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How to Be Wrong

By Fr. Daniel Pinell


We all (or at least most of us!) want to be right! Being wrong can be humiliating. It can bring guilt and shame to our lives. Who in their right mind would want to be wrong? And yet, we all know that everyone is wrong sometimes.


The art of being wrong is a dying craft. Our polarized culture, where politics and media (especially Social Media) demands that we choose a side and stick to it, is doing tremendous damage to our ability to say that we are wrong. Even when presented with conflicting facts, for example, many are doubling down, defending their so-called truth. It is no wonder that conspiracy theories appear to be on the rise!


We have lost the ability to look at realities with nuance. We become more dualistic in our thinking: I am right and those who think differently are wrong. When we find someone equally committed to our ideologies, we praise them for their common sense that ironically the rest of society has lost.


This has created a host of leaders in our society, including in the Church, who are refusing to admit if and when they are wrong. For the Christian, this path spells doom. After all, the entry point to the Christian community is by admitting that we are wrong: we come to Christ by confessing and repenting of our sins.


How can we move forward?


First, is the practice of confession. Confession can be practiced in the community, but also face to face with a priest. By making this a practice of our Christian path we remind ourselves of our sins, admit our wrongs to another, and receive forgiveness from God through the absolution of the priest.


Second, realize that admitting when we are wrong takes great strength and courage. Our instinct is to protect ourselves, including our self-image. Part of this protection is displaying a positive self-image towards others. Admitting that you are wrong, and potentially damage your image in the eyes of the other, is an act of courage. Therefore, admitting that you are wrong is an act of strength and not of weakness.


Third, learn from your mistakes. Admitting our wrongs allows us to learn from our mistakes. Learning from our mistakes is an essential part of growth, especially for the Christian. It is nearly impossible to learn from our mistakes if we remain unwilling to admit when we are wrong.


These three principles will allow us, I believe, to move forward and grow in our walk with God, and by fostering a heart that is ready for repentance, one that is willing to admit its wrong, we open ourselves more to His grace and healing.


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