The VigilanceVoice  
Thursday... January 31, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 142

The Terror Of Being "Right!"

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City--Inside every human being is the "right to be wrong."  
           It's a precarious right, teetering on the razor's edge in most situations, but it exists as firmly as any written Constitutional Right of Free Speech or Free Expression.   This "right to be wrong" flies in the face of conventional wisdoms, and thrusts the individual who holds up that right as a "sore thumb in the crowd."
          The "right to be wrong" simply means that one is doing the best he or she can do, or thinks they can do, despite all the critics who might admonish the efforts or criticize the methods.  
          Terror also accompanies the "right to be wrong."   When one is attacked for doing something he or she thinks is in the best interests of the community--whether it be a relationship, a family, a neighborhood, a nation or a world--the pressures to fold and agree with the conventional wisdom becomes oppressive.   Instead of being at the center of the universe, the person exercising the "right to be wrong" finds themselves skulking on the perimeter of acceptance, often alienated from the collective conscious, or disenfranchised from it because of the differing viewpoints, strategies, or tactics.
         Raising children is at its best an exercise in the "right to be wrong."   Parents embark on their journey of parenthood with no prior experience, no history of trial and error, so their efforts to "do the right thing" often end up on the "wrong" side of the ledger.    When that happens, they feel guilt and shame and embarrassment for having done the "wrong thing" when in fact, they had no benchmark for the "right thing."   No one knows how a child will respond to just about anything one does.  The reason:  each child is unique.   Each child has a different emotional chemistry, a different "take" on life, living and the consequences that result when people err.
        Similarly, parents operate from the same pool of uniqueness.   Each parent has his or her set of values, expectations, boundaries, consequences.    One may be liberal, the other conservative.  One may allow certain behaviors and not others, while the other accepts the "negative" behaviors and disavows the positives.
       This stress and strain if further heightened by the fact parents are commonly male and female--offering two different emotional viewpoints of the same action, often resulting in two different opinions.   Thus, the "right to be wrong" best applies to the trial and errors of child management.
       Recently, I had a very close friend who experienced the "right to be wrong" tidal wave.  She was caring for children who bonded so close to her that they began to fight being with their parents--at least when she was present.
       She was doing everything possible to be the best guardian, but had no control over the child's immaturity to "cling" and "cleave."    Clinging to her in the presence of the parents cleaved the perfection of the relationship, for it became that she was the surrogate mother and father in such instances, and the child would kick and scream and wail and howl as she left, demanding her presence.
       She worried greatly about the effects of such behavior, for it made her presence with the children uncomfortable for her when she thought of the parents coming home and the scene that would result where they literally had to rip the child from her arms to escape.   The child's love was glue--it wouldn't unstick even when she walked out the door for the tears and crying followed her, haunting her.
       The first obvious question is:  What kind of parents are these?   Are they mean to the child?  Do they abuse her?   Do they ignore her? 
       The answer to all the above is "no."  In fact, ironically, the parents are very loving, very caring people who live by a standard of non-violence and social service.   Their children, when alone with them, are "givers of love."   They gush it.   But insert the third party and bond is cut, and the glue is set.
      I thought heavily about this "right to be wrong" in the case of this guardian.  She had every right to love the child, and did no wrong under conventional terms.   Yet, there was something wrong.   Why did the child throw such a tantrum, such a fit when the guardian left?  
       There are countless answers one could throw at the issue, but  the core message I got from the situation was the "right to be wrong."    Despite the critics who might suggest some imparity in either the guardian or parents, the "right to be wrong" overruled all the dart throwers.   Both the parents and guardian were doing what they thought best--teaching love and respect and the zest for life to the child.   How the child assimilated that information, and how it reacted to it, became non sequester to the issue.   It was the giving that counted.
       In fighting Terrorism at an emotional as well as physical level, we also have to accept the "right to be wrong."   We have never fought Terrorism on a national scale before, and that means we're all inept at it.  However, all of us have fought it on a personal level--whether it be the Terrorism of being fired, the Terror of not making enough money, the Terror of not being loved enough--we all know the acrid taste of Terror.
       We have all stumbled through the Terror.  We have exited the "other side."  We have grown from the experience, or retreated and become retarded as a result.
       When we take the Pledge of Vigilance, it is not a guarantee we will do things "perfectly."   At best, it is a checkpoint.   It is a constitutional agreement for us to exercise the "right to be wrong."  But can we be wrong by teaching our children how to have more courage than fear?   Or, promoting more conviction than intimidation?   Or, committing ourselves to take action rather than sit around in complacency?
       It would be hard for anyone to say the "right to be wrong" ended up wrong when the result is the growth and evolution of a child, when caring and compassion are the endpoints.
       While one might be Terror stricken exercising his or her right to be wrong, the end of the road does have a pot of gold.  It is called the courage and conviction of taking action.

Go To Daily Diary, Jan. 30--The Freedom Corps Or The Vigilance Corps?

©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design