When I was a wee lass, we used to get a loaf of bread at the bakery on the way home from Mass on Sunday mornings. If there were any little crusty bits that I could break off and eat in the car, I was happy to snap them off and eat them. Unfortunately, my dad looked back at me just as I put one in my mouth, and told me to get my fingers out of my mouth. Except that they weren’t in my mouth. Well, I guess *technically* one or two were, as I transferred the crispy end of the bread into my mouth. I said my fingers weren’t in my mouth but he could clearly see that they were. Alas.
Even more recently, my gentleman associate swears that I hog the sheet on the bed, and I swear he hogs the actual space in the bed. We each swear that the other is mistaken. And for at least part of the night, every night, both of us are certainly both right and not-right.
A while ago at work, I was madmadmad because I team I worked with had missed a deadline which made my job harder. From my perspective, they needed to review some text for technical accuracy, and they missed the deadline because they were continuing to work on the software beyond a milestone. To them, they adhered to a different process, where they needed to announce that they were extending their development period, so they did their due dilligence. Both of us were right there, too. There was clearly a breakdown in how several processes fit together. Oops.
Fast forward. My mom announced on the weekend that Lush Cosmetics were closing all their Canadian stores. All of them. Everyone else in the room thought that couldn’t be correct, but she was convinced that’s what she heard. Turns out, everyone was correct. Lush Cosmetics did, indeed, close all their Canadian stores so that their employees could participate in the Climate Strike last week, and then promptly reopened on Saturday. She was correct, so was everyone else.
But I feel like this kind of scenario, where everyone is correct and so is no one, happens all the time. I mean, whether I had my fingers in my mouth or Lush was closed on the last Friday of September aren’t arguments that I’m going to die in a ditch to defend, but there are things that are more mission critical. And if you have an emotional investment in whether one thing or the other is correct, you’re going to dig in. I mean, my 8 year old self was pretty indignant when I was accused of having my fingers in my mouth, but as soon as I got home, the toast made from that bread was a balm for my injured pride.
I’ve been thinking about where this happens on a bigger world stage. There’s a tiny rocky island between Greenland and Ellesmere Island in the Arctic Sea, where both Canada and Denmark claim the land. There are no trees and no settlements – it’s seriously just a big rock, but everyone wants sovereignty. Last year, there was a joint task force to settle the dispute over it. But in the meantime, the Hans Island Whisky War continues.
So where am I going with this? Just because you’re right, doesn’t mean you’re not wrong, too. This is a difficult lesson to consider when you’re dug in about defending something. Things like Kashmir and The West Bank are what happen when no one wants to listen to anyone else’s perspective. Everyone’s right, and everyone’s also wrong. No one wants that.
Perspective matters, kids. So, what are you looking at?