Wednesday, June 09, 2010

the redemptive pleasure of being wrong

an insanely wise excerpt from an interview with Ira Glass:

IG: Do you talk at all in your book about people who can never be wrong? I feel like I've known people who in an argument can never ever, ever admit they're wrong. And I find that such a fascinating and horrible thing. Those people are so embattled.

I do talk about it, yeah. Defensiveness and denial come up a lot; they really fascinate me. Part of the challenge for me in writing about it was almost like the interviewing challenge you described earliertrying to approach this really problematic position with empathy, to understand where these people were coming from and what's so frightening or intolerable to them about the possibility of being wrong. 

IG: That's really interesting. There are definitely lots of things that I don't want to be wrong about and will fight to the death over, and I'm totally obnoxious about it all the time. But I also feel like there's a kind of discovery that you're wrong that, in a safe situation, can be a real pleasure. Do you know what I mean? Like when you're arguing with someone you love and you realize, "I'm wrong, you're right," and you come together in that moment. It's such a relief. To me it's so obvious that some kinds of being wrong are OK.

1 comment:

Lara said...

I'm a recovering bad apologizer. I think I've spent the better part of my life being one of "those" people. When I did apologize, it was usually phrased very carefully so that I could convince myself I was being magnanimous while remaining unconvinced of my own guilt.

I'm not exactly sure when that started because I was raised in a Christian home with two younger sisters that I'm sure I had to apologize to quite frequently. However, I've recently had some interesting and painful realizations about my mother. I'm learning she's very good at excusing, avoiding, and deflecting. It's almost like she's afraid to apologize.

I feel for her. I remember a time in the last few years when I felt truly sorry for my actions and their results. Apologizing for that was a liberating and intimate moment for me.

The older I get the more I realize the beauty of a good apology. And it's one skill I hope to pass on to my children.