I Know I’m Wrong – Do You?

I disagree with you.

Before you get upset, let me make one thing clear.

I know I’m wrong. Statistically, I know it. There isn’t a person on the planet who believes everything just like I do. It would be arrogant and foolish to presume I am the only person who is completely right about everything I think and say. In fact, I disagree with both my past and future self. I am in a constant state of flux. There are things I confidently believed a short time ago that I no longer believe. I have no doubt there are things I now believe that I soon won’t. I don’t know what I’m wrong about. I think I’m right about everything I’m wrong about. Otherwise I wouldn’t be wrong about it, would I?

I know you’re wrong, too. I don’t think less of you for being wrong. You think you’re right. I get it. We are alike in this.

When we disagree, I think you’re wrong about something in particular. I’ll discuss it with you. I usually enjoy this. Sometimes it might not be very consequential. Other times I may believe that what we are discussing has eternal consequences for you. Most of the time the disagreements we have will probably be somewhere in between these extremes. I enjoy the process of coming to understand one another and growing together. I don’t usually expect to convince you of anything today. I don’t expect you will change my mind either, at least immediately. I want us to learn something from one another, to open our minds to another point of view.

If our positions really do contradict, we cannot both be correct, although it could instead be that we never actually disagreed to begin with. Sometimes the process reveals that it was simply our presumptions about one another that were incorrect. It may also be that we are both wrong.

Over time, we will both change our minds about things, most likely outside the passion of our present discourse. I don’t want any credit for what influence I may have had. I likely will not give you any either. I may not even remember that you influenced me. I’m glad you did. I’m glad you cared. I do too.

I love you. I respect you. I’m looking forward to our discussion.

“If there was no error in principle or practice, then controversy, which is only another name for opposition to error, real or supposed, would be unnecessary. If it were lawful, or if it were benevolent, to make a truce with error, then opposition to it would be both unjust and unkind. If error were innocent and harmless, then we might permit it to find its own quietus, or to immortalize itself. But so long as it is confessed that error is more or less injurious to the welfare of society, individually and collectively considered, then no man can be considered benevolent who does not set his face against it. In proportion as a person is intelligent and benevolent, he will be controversial, if error exist around him. Hence the Prince of Peace never sheathed the sword of the Spirit while he lived. He drew it on the banks of the Jordan and threw the scabbard away.”

— Alexander Campbell, “Religious Controversy,” Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 1, No. 1, January 4, 1830. [Emphasis added.]

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