Compassionate Communication

The Existence of Right and Wrong

The other night Chrissy and I were having a very interesting conversation. We have very different ideas on spirituality, faith, and life in general. We have often been told how strange it is that we are together given the fact that we are so different in these areas. I find it to be one of the reasons we work so well together and have lasted as long as we have. I know for me I enjoy being challenged in my ideas. So back to our conversation, we were talking about the idea of good and bad and what they mean to each of us.

I have a very distinct idea of good or evil, right or wrong, normal or abnormal. I do not believe they exist. I know, I can hear you all now “that is crazy, of course, they exist! I can’t believe someone would legitimately have that idea!” Bear with me for a moment and I will explain how I came to this conclusion.

I want you to think of something that would be considered universally wrong. It could be anything. I bet you were thinking of murder, right? I know most people would say killing is always wrong. Is there ever a time when killing could be thought of as right? Let’s play a little thought experiment. What if you were in a movie theater and someone had a gun. They took this gun out and started to shoot people. Would it be right to then kill the person who came into this place and was hurting so many others?

My point is right and wrong, good and evil, they are all based on our own belief of what they are. We all grew up in a country that told us what is right, then in a state, and a city that may refine that idea further. Then our chosen faith or lack thereof helped us shape this idea more. Then finally our families came in to smooth out the rough spots in our ideas. All this plus much more combined to give us our own idea of right or wrong.

Now you might be sitting there thinking “ok great, what’s your point?” Here it is, how can we be angry or hurt when everyone is only acting from their own view of this dichotomy? When we recognize that we are holding everyone else to our standard it can help us to find the calm we need to accept others for who they are. Then we can accept ourselves as well.

In a way, everyone is placing judgment on others for not being more like they are. For not having their way of seeing the world. This is, of course, the way we all behave. There is nothing wrong with judgment, I just think we need to find a new, more healthy way to judge the world around us. As humans we are going to judge, it is a leftover from our evolution. Back when a quick judgment was the difference between life and death. The old ways of good or bad, right or wrong, had their place and served their purpose well. It is, however, time for a change.

A New Way To Judge

Let’s do away with the old, unhealthy way of judgment and try a new approach. Let’s judge based on whether our needs are meet or not. This will do away with the concept of right or wrong, good or bad. The only thing we will have to go on then will be if the situation is serving life or not.

The idea here is we should seek to meet our needs without impeding the ability of others to do the same. Now I know what you might be thinking. I hear the argument often in my classes. “But what if my need and the others need is incomparable. What if my need is to go to the club and dance and my partner wants to stay home?”

So in this example, we have not expressed a need. Instead, we have expressed a solution to a need. The needs here could be for fun or excitement and for rest or comfort. To make this a bit easier to see I will include a list of common needs (Needs List).

The beauty of a need is it can never be in conflict with another’s needs. We will often have a conflict when we mistake a need for a solution to a need. This is a very common cause of arguments in a relationship.

If we can shift our thinking from they were wrong for whatever it was they did and instead seen to find the need that was in their behavior, we could stop a lot of our conflicts. We could see the other not as a bad person who has done something wrong but a person seeking to find their own comfort and self-care.

Let’s take this new way of seeing and bring it into our lives. Use it to help bring an end to so many of our arguments. To find the common ground that we all stand on. Where we are all only doing our best to find a way to ease our suffering and meet our needs.

Most of us grew up speaking a language that encourages us to label, compare, demand, and pronounce judgments rather than to be aware of what we are feeling and needing.
Marshall B. Rosenberg

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