I Hate Being Wrong!

A gold and red button with a sad face

🎡 I hate to be wrong. It always makes me feel diminished when I discover that what I thought was true is not true. Somehow, I have associated being right with being good and being wrong, if only occasionally 😊, making me somewhat less than I should be. From what I have read, the psychological theory of “cognitive dissonance” (holding conflicting ideas simultaneously) prevents us from realizing we are wrong. My understanding of that condition is when your actions contradict your beliefs. Examples of that would be smoking while knowing the health risk or telling a lie while considering yourself an honest person. These conflicts usually result in feelings of anxiety or worse.
Often, upon finding out we were wrong about something, we feel offended and double down with the belief that we were right. I recently commented on the history of the relationship between Russia and Ukraine. I falsely believed they had a shared history and that many Ukrainians felt a kinship to Russia before the current war began. My good friend (Jerry) corrected me, informing me that wasn’t true. A lot of air swiftly left my sails, and I was determined to prove my opinion correct. Sadly, after researching, I discovered that only 17% of Ukraine’s population is Russian. Even though they were founding members of the Soviet Union, their history is twisted.
As I read on, I could feel the disbelief within me growing. How could I be so wrong when I follow current events closely? The thought was that if I was wrong about this, maybe I was wrong about many other things.
That brings me back to the “cognitive dissonance” question. Why would I believe I’m always right in my assumptions when I know deep down I’m not? It always “gets my goat” when I realize I was mistaken about something. The people I know that easily accept being corrected when they are wrong deserve my respect. As Carl Sagan expressed so wisely, “Let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.” Heck yeah!

🎡 I was a little upset when I read recently that an early indicator of memory issues is giving up on reading books of fiction. The article said that when dementia starts, people switch to reading nonfiction. The reasoning behind it is that fiction requires active engagement with the text, starting at the beginning and working through to the end. In other words, you must remember what the character did on page four when you get to page twelve; otherwise, what happens on that page makes no sense. That worries me a bit because I have switched almost entirely to nonfiction within the last year. The audiobook I’m currently listening to is “Vicksburg” by Donald L. Miller, and I have to go back many months to find a fictional one.
I don’t know why I worry about dementia so often. Maybe it’s because I see so much of it around me. The other day, an article said that you lose ten points in your IQ between the ages of 50–70, which made me wonder what it was from 70 to 81. Daily, I do several things that test my ability to recall things: citing all our presidents in chronological order, the alphabet backward, and a plan to add all our vice presidents and first ladies. These things will help me, I hope, ward off or delay the dreaded dementia that every intelligent person predicts will rear its ugly head in my life one day. Perhaps I will be lucky, defy the odds, and escape its grasp completely. My wife thinks I worry too much about stuff like that, but my reasoning is that if I know it can happen, I should try to prevent it. Joan Didion said, “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” That’s precisely what I’m trying to do. 😊.

🎡 I remember Flip Wilson in a comedy routine where he said, “I’m gonna pray now; anyone want anything?”. That thought brought a smile to my face. I’m guilty of asking God for many things, and I’m sure he tires of my endless pleas. My Aunt Beulah turned 93 earlier this year, and many love her dearly. Last week I was told that she has pneumonia and Covid. My heart sank as the memories I had of her during my childhood came flooding back. We all have special people in our lives, and we believe they will always be there, but we all know that’s not how life works. I pray that He will allow her to stay with us a little longer.
My friend Reese told me once that life is like a bus. As it moves down the street, people get on and off. In my long life, many of the people I love have gotten off the bus, and I know my turn will come in due time, but it doesn’t lessen the pain of losing a cherished family member or friend.
I can’t remember the winter I turned old, but I’m guessing it was in my 60s when you’re supposed to reach the age of wisdom. It’s fair to wonder when that wisdom thing happens if, in fact, it does at all. We all implore it to arrive before we get the door knock from the “Grim Reaper,” but we have no guarantees.
My Aunt Beulah was a beautician before she changed careers and went to college and studied to become a schoolteacher. She taught in our two-room schoolhouse when I was in elementary school. Grades 1-3 were in the first room and 4-6 in the second. I was in fourth grade, and my brother Jerry was in 3rd, so she taught him, not me. We all admired her teaching skills and kindness. I’m confident many people remember her from her many years of teaching. We have all had special teachers in our lives, and we know they cannot be memorable as teachers unless they are unique as human beings. That describes my Aunt Beulah very well.
They have moved her from the hospital to a rehab facility, and we plan on going back home to visit her soon. I pray for her recovery.

🎡 This certainly has been a hot summer, and we are being told that it’s all because of “Climate Change.” The people in charge of everything seem to think that those of us in charge of nothing aren’t doing what’s beneficial for our climate. They are wrong because I know many of us are engaged in recycling and reducing energy consumption. We are all aware that we cannot continue to pollute our environment and expect future residents of this beautiful planet to enjoy the life we have been privileged to live. We are moving towards having our energy needs met by nuclear, solar, and wind power. A movement is also underway to switch from gasoline-powered personal transportation to electric vehicles. Our country consumes about twenty million barrels of petroleum daily (7 billion per year). We cannot vaporize that much fuel and expect our weather to stay the same. It’s little wonder that our climate is close to being toxic.
Oddly, I was unaware of this as a younger man. Of course, I was unaware of the dangers of smoking as well. We cannot correct the things unknown to us, but we should always correct our harmful ways after we gain that knowledge. Many years ago, a close relative was told she had diabetes and could manage it without help if she changed her diet to one more healthy and lost weight. She took charge, signed up for Weight Watchers, and began immediately losing weight. That lasted about a year, then she returned to her old habits and suffered from diabetes for the rest of her life.
We all can be good environmentalists when gasoline is $2.00/gallon, but everyone wants the oil barons to pump more oil when it’s the price of a bucket of diamonds. Somehow, we have to summon the courage to look past our current miseries and start planning on leaving a planet that was just as good as it was when we arrived. It will require sacrifices, but I believe we are up to it. We must avoid making an initial effort and then giving up because it’s too difficult. Anton Chekhov said, “One must be a god to tell successes from failures without making a mistake.” I don’t think so😊.