What’s right

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for some time. Learning about different parenting styles and methods has only furthered this internal discussion though it applies to many, many other things. By asking “What’s right?” I’m not referring to what is or isn’t morally right. I’m asking “What is the best thing that I can do for me and my family?” As is often the case when searching out opinions and advice on topics people have very strong feelings about, things often get very heated very quickly. There are as many opinions as there are people in the world. It’s rare that you will find two people who will agree 100% on every single thing. I have a feeling that most of the arguing stems from two things that are basically different sides of the same coin: 1) What is right for me is not right for everyone else and 2) What is right for someone else may not be right for me.

What is right for me is not right for everyone else. Just because a particular method or action works for me or works for my family does not mean that it is a good fit for everyone else. Someone, maybe, but not everyone. For example, for the last few months I’ve been working to build better housekeeping habits. Not because I just love cleaning house but because it’s something that needs to be done and for now it’s my job to do it. I’ve discovered a lot of tips and basic coping methods that help me get things done. Do I run around telling people that they are failures unless they do things the same way? No. If the topic comes up with someone else I try to phrase my advice in terms of “This is what helped me, maybe this will work out for you, too. If it doesn’t I won’t be offended.” There is no point to trying to force my ideas or methods on someone else because I understand that not everyone is the same. They need to find their own way; all I can do is try to help and to be as understanding as possible.

What is right for someone else may not be right for me. So what happens when people fail to realize that their way is not the only right way? You end up with people trying to shove their methods and beliefs on you. They have found some thing or believe in one thing that they feel should apply to everyone and so they speak and act as if this is the only “right” way to act. They either can’t or refuse to see that just because something works for them, in their life, it doesn’t mean that I or anyone else will be happy doing the same things. This applies to everything: lifestyle, eating habits, relationships, parenting, religion, depression, the list goes on.

I think the problem boils down to a complete and utter lack of empathy. It seems impossible for most people to put themselves in another person’s position. If someone doesn’t believe or do exactly as they would have in the same situation they don’t allow for the fact that the other person has lived a life entirely different from theirs, experiencing different things and influenced by factors that an outsider couldn’t possibly wholly understand. No, the other person is simply “wrong” because they are not the same. Not only do attitudes like this show a lack of empathy but they also show an overabundance of arrogance. Why should your way be any better than theirs? Why are your experiences any more valid?

Different does not mean wrong. Different doesn’t mean the end of the world. Stop acting like it does.