The Rightness of Wrong

I found this piece of quarantine writing in my phone last night and it struck me. I hardly remember writing it but it offered me something. I hope it gives you something as well.


She tells me that’s why, when I bring up masks and mandates. They had said we didn’t need them and then they said we did. Her mistrust of science is based on the fact that it’s comfortable changing its mind. That is asks us to assume the status quo until we no longer can. But we never accept the change; we only accept the rejection of that which we thought we always knew. We rarely know anything in science except what we don’t.

If you were to ask me, right now, what the greatest threat to the human experience is, I may be tempted to answer it is our fear of being wrong about something we for so long thought was right. The skepticism we harbor towards COVID protocols, towards systemic racism as people of privilege, towards our fellow citizens when we disagree is not, I think, so much a fear of the unknown, or a confidence against that which we fear. These are all reflections of our deepest, most fragile fear: that we’ve been wrong about something that mattered.

I believe that at our centers we are all good people. It’s true that I rarely live like that and honestly, it’s because I can rarely afford to. People are dangerous. They are untrustworthy. They will tell you they love you with your words and proudly support someone who holds power of you that declared they don’t. We are all good people honestly and justly pursuing that which is best for ourselves.

Theodore Parker inspired generations of presidents and civil rights leaders when he said “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.” Perhaps our lives, if we are courageous, can each day bend ever so slightly more to justice, ever more away from ourselves and our own reflections on what we think to be true. Perhaps we may change our minds day to day, minute to minute. Perhaps we should stop our embrace of what we know, and instead always begin with what we don’t.

Good science and good lives may just emerge.

Bryce Van Vleet is the author of Tired Pages which can be purchased here. His second book will be released January 21st. The Kindle edition is available for preorder and the physical copy will be available for purchase on release day. You can support him by clicking through blog posts or donating (scroll to the bottom of the page). Like him on Facebook or follow him on Goodreads.

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