Jack used this quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Be selective of your battles, for sometimes peace is better than being right.”
That’s certainly good advice in politics and for life. How many of us have had to implement the old advice to “bite your tongue” or maybe to heed the advice that Archie often gave Edith in the Archie Bunker show to “stifle yourself”? Sometimes swallowing your pride or your need to be right about something is the better choice.
The use of the word “peace” in the quote is interesting. Obviously, it refers to being at peace with those with whom you might disagree. In the current political environment, one might substitute the word civility. Things would certainly be better in Washington if the politicians could find a way to act with civility towards those with whom they disagree.
Another aspect of the peace that the quote is alluding to is the ability of being at peace with your decision not to do battle just because you believe that you are right. The decision not to jump into battle over an issue requires that you pause long enough to consider the circumstances and the worth of doing battle. Is it worth possibly losing a friend? If you were to win this battle, does the other party have to lose? What possible benefit will accrue to you for having won this battle? What loss is there really in not doing battle? I think if we all stopped long enough to consider one or two or those kinds of questions there would be far less battling going on and more of us would be at peace with our decisions not to do battle over every disagreement.
The final aspect of the quote that bears some introspection is the final word – “right”. Right by what standard? Right based upon what proof? Right from what perspective? If one is “right” based upon unproven and unsupportable prejudices are they really right? If one is right, based upon” facts” that are not true are they really right? If being “right” is based solely upon ones opinion, rather than facts or proof, how right is it really? If I’m “right” must you be wrong; or, are we looking at things from two completely different perspectives? Can we both be “right” at the same time? Why not?
So, consider these thoughts today, as you encounter situations in which the impulse to do battle because you are “right” pops up. Try instead to be at peace with your decision not to waste your energy on skirmishes that really have little meaning or value in your life. That is not to say that you should be passive in all things. Rather, you should pick the battles that are really worth fighting because they involve things for which winning the battle will make a real difference in your life or the lives of others.
Have a peaceful day. It’s the “right” thing to do.