01 Apr

What it means to be right

I posed this rhetorical question recently on Facebook (because I was mindlessly tired and thus in a perfect Zen state to communicate via FB). The context, while sounding general, is Loading the Dishwasher.

Tell the truth, brothers, it’s good to be right, isn’t it?

Here’s the unedited response from my sibling brother. Remember, this is for posterity:

Of course it’s good to be right. The more serious moral question is how to act towards others when they are forced to admit you are right.

For instance, is it “bad” to victory prance laps around a person who just admitted you are right and while looking with puzzlement at the big foam hand you are thrusting in the air ask in a loud sing song voice why they don’t make giant foam hands that say “We’re #2,” then slapping yourself on the head and saying, oh yeah, that’s right, because when it comes to being right, there is only one number that matters. BIG foam hand in your FACE! IN. YOUR. FACE.

Struggling with this question I did what any reasonable person would do. I invoked the Dalai Lama in a dream and asked him,

“Your Holiness, I know that Buddhism holds that there is no life without suffering and that enlightenment can only happen after travelling the Eightfold Path, which if I understood Wikipedia correctly, is basically about how to be right all the time about everything. Which I am. As obvious as this is to me, less-informed people around me still struggle to accept that I have transendenced the wrongness from which they still suffer?”

Sensing the truth in my view, the Dalai Lama closed his eyes and breathed in slowly through one nostril, then the other, considering how to make his answer acceptable to me. Finally he answered.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Even when you are battered by the shrill winds of the less-informed.”

Bringing his hands together, he then bowed and continued into the hotel as an aide handed me this cool publicity headshot:
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, gets the joke

The next day I left my big foam hand in the dumpster area and resolved in the future to temper my disrespect for insufferable ignorance and baffling absence of taste by ending all debates I win with a statement like, “Not that anything matters,” or “Being right is nothing compared to all that hair. Man, you’ll never be bald.”

I think this is what Buddha would do.

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