Welcome to the World Improvement Contest

“What, you’re planning a weekend trip to Mallorca after Corona?”, “are you sure eating meat is a good idea?” or “I’ve left the church, I think you should do that too”.

All of these are completely morally familiar and very often heard phrases in the times we live in. They become a problem when we start to make someone else wrong with their way of life. I am in an environment of people who all make the world better in some way. What I find is that we don’t all seem to be equally good at everything we do. Sometimes we turn it into a contest.

I very much believe that it makes sense to protect the environment, the climate and also people’s freedom. However, if we take it as a purpose for making others feel bad, then we have not made the world a better place. We have only proven once again that we are right, and nothing has changed.

I don’t have any empirical studies on this, but I think many conflicts, if not most, arise from seeing one’s own truth as “better” than the other person’s truth. Here’s a practical example from the weekend: I was of the rock-solid opinion that I knew the woman I met in the nature reserve around the corner should be given a clear warning because she simply let her dog run without a leash, EVEN though it was a bird breeding area.

I felt the “righteous” anger rising inside me, and I could only just restrain myself from taking it out on her. I wouldn’t have achieved anything with it, because this woman wouldn’t even have understood the content of my sentence, but only my angry, condemning way of talking to her. Who likes to accept something in that kind of communication? Nobody!

Why does this happen to us again and again? Maybe because we ourselves are not so much in tune with our own values at the moment and then have to compensate with a few pompous things that we “supposedly” do right (and others don’t). But maybe it’s also because we were taught this way of dealing with things and we ourselves have been treated this way 1000 times.

It doesn’t really matter why, the moment you improve the world is the moment you give up trying to be right. Where you really listen to another point of view without making it wrong. You don’t even have to accept it completely and “get it right”, you just have to allow it (how often do we not want to hear what the other person has to say).

It would have been the moment when I could have had a normal conversation with the woman in the nature reserve about whether she knew anything about the leash requirement. And who knows, maybe we would have both come away from the conversation a bit more enriched. Making the world a better place starts in our own consciousness. We can all start at any time.

Every moment of happiness, every moment of sadness, every kindness, every critical thought adds its consequences to the blueprint of the world.

Harry Palmer, Autor der Avatar Unterlagen

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