Sometimes, we get into pointless arguments like who’s right and who’s wrong, and this has caused a lot of frustration among a lot of people, particularly if it’s related to one of those fake news or common misconceptions.
You might be aware that the person you’re arguing against is wrong, you might be the one who knows all the facts, and you might’ve even double or triple-checked everything just in case. But that doesn’t give you the license to be a jerk about it.
I know, it’s hard. How else are you going to convince your friends and family to stop smoking if they refuse to accept the facts? How else are you going to correct other people’s misunderstandings or misconceptions about the world? How else are you going to get them to accept the bitter truth of reality?
It’s easy to tell others they’re wrong, to make fun of their intelligence, to run circles around them and humiliate them. But that’s not going to change anything. Humans are emotional creatures, we hardly listen to reason or logic. Most of our behavior is driven by our feelings and irrational beliefs. If someone is being an asshole to them, do you think they’ll ever admit they’re wrong?
It’s not enough to be right, you also have to be kind. If you can’t be kind, you can’t empathize and no one will really listen to you. And sometimes, it’s more important to let others continue their misconceptions about the world than argue right and wrong. Take this old story for example:
A man approached a Confucius disciple in the morning and asked: “Are you Confucius?”
The student replied: “Is there anything you need to consult with my professor?”
“I want to consult a question about time.”
“I can answer that question for you.”
“Tell me how many seasons are there in a year?”
The student responded laughing: “Four seasons.”
“That’s incorrect, there are only three seasons during the year!”
“No, there are four.”
And so they went back and forth until the afternoon. Confucius heard the commotion and came out of the house. His disciple explains the situation and asked the master to set the record straight.
Confucius thought for a moment and then replied: “There are only three seasons in a year.”
Hearing that answer the man walked away happily.
Afterward, his student asked: “Teacher your teachings are incorrect, there are four seasons in a year.”
“How many seasons are there?” Confucius replied: “Four.”
The student was confused. So, Confucius continued: “The answer now is different than moments ago. The man you were talking to was a grasshopper. A grasshopper is born during the spring and dies during the fall. He only experienced spring, summer, and fall, how would he know about winter? The concept of winter does not exist in his mind. You can argue with him for three days and three night and you would never be able to convince him. If you don’t just tell him what he would like to hear, he will never leave. You might have lost a small battle, but you gain much more.”
Learn to be kind, don’t be like this guy.