Learning to be "wrong"

I was fourteen and attending my first (and only) summer camp ever when I realized that fine people might disagree on the positions held by my family of origin.  The camp was held up in the mountains of VA and the crowd of kids attending were warm and welcoming.  I cannot remember how the leader of the organization I attended convinced my parents to let me attend but I vaguely recall it involved her paying my way and providing transportation.

Because my family moved around a lot, I was pretty untethered from the world.  New to Richmond, the only adult “voices” in my life on a daily basis were my parents and the occasional influential teacher.  Except for this club I was in.  Others took for granted that an adult would show up for us on a weekly basis, sponsor our participation in the organization and actually listen to us!  I did not.

I vividly recall the speaker presentations during that week - not for the content but for the challenge.  These were adults talking about matters that I did not know adults thought about, sharing opinions that were diametrically opposed to my dad’s perspective.  I felt like I had found a new home.  I thought maybe the world was not as scary as I believed.  And maybe, just maybe, there were people in the world who cared about others.  This was all news to me.

During this week I had an insight, soon lost only to be rediscovered many years later, that I might be missing key information about a subject; my family could be wrong or if not wrong, at least have an opinion that not everyone shared.  This was a developmental milestone of sorts; my first foray into making up my own mind about an issue.  It was liberating in the moment and dangerous once I returned home.  I learned how to shut up.

But I also learned that I could be wrong about something.  One of my favorite slogans in the whole wide world reflects the values I began to grasp during this amazing week of discovery:  when we know better, we do better.

Being wrong is not a capital offense; there is not extra credit for being right.  In fact, growing up necessarily involves unlearning, relearning, and realizing that we are always in need of more education.

Today, consider how you might accidentally be closing yourself off to new and life-altering information simply because you are so confident in your “rightness”.  What if...you are missing key information that would change your perspective?