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The human experience: Right versus happy

By Debbie Ogunjobi
HARMONY is a necessary ingredient to happiness and while no one has a tried and tested formula for everlasting happiness, living harmoniously is half the battle.
Living in harmony with the elements means embracing the environment and adapting our needs to what is readily available.

Living in harmony with our fellow man is the more difficult part as we all seem to be great at pointing out where we are right and where others are wrong not only for the sake of righteousness but to score a point. I wonder whether anyone has observed that those whose stock in trade is pointing out other people’s shortcomings are very lonely and unpopular themselves. It has taken years, no, it has taken decades for me to realise the wisdom of my own argument in today’s column and even now I am still learning.

Being right does not always equal happiness and wisdom is being compassionate and humble enough to cede ground regularly for the sake of peace .The question of the day is quite simple and I would really appreciate robust agreements for and against!  Would you rather be right or would you choose to be happy?

It is an obvious fact that no man is perfect, yet as flawed and imperfect as we all admit we are, we get a rather perverse thrill from being legalistic and pointing out errors in others.

Thearguments that develop into full scale wars really begin from, peoples, governments, institutions standing firmly behind a position they believe to be right and going to any length to have their way. Violence in most marriages actually begin from the opposing stances taken by man and wife that eventually degenerates into the physically stronger enforcing their rightness through violence.

In the day to day life, it’s very easy to see people lose friendship opportunities, to arguments that are at best mundane just so that they have the last say all the time. I have always believed that truth in any shape or form should be so unshakeable that other people’s opinions shouldn’t cause offense or bring war; it’s easier to agree to disagree!!

One of my most vivid memories of such an argument was one I had with my cousins and siblings very many years ago. I had come across some information about the World Cup and there was a blazing argument on the nature of the material it was made from.

I was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that it was made of 24carat gold on a malachite base, while my brothers and cousins who were football fanatics said it was gold plated silver.

The argument went on for ages and almost degenerated to violence as no one was willing to consider anyone else’s position. Before we knew it, it had turned form irrelevant football trivia to outright insults and name calling and very soon the naming ceremony we had all come for was a war zone.

Eventually we all dispersed after a thorough bruising of our emotions, we all had to be right, so everyone ended up very unhappy.

Looking back now, I can’t believe I got involved in such a stupid argument, it would have cost me nothing to walk away from that argument, and it had been within my power to smile and consider the possibility that they also had a source for their information that they believed was just as accurate as mine.

At times emotions rise up out of a need for release rather than the actual argument in question. A tumultuous fire can be doused if the flames are not fanned at the very beginning.

Years later it turns out we were all right in our different ways. There were actually two World cups, the 1st was the Jules Rimet Trophy, originally named Victory, but later renamed in honor of former FIFA  president Jules Rimet, it was indeed  made of gold plated sterling silver and lapis lazuli and depicted Nike, the Greek goddess of victory; this was the cup my siblings and cousins meant.

Brazil won that particular trophy outright in 1970, prompting the commissioning of a replacement. ( The Jules Rimet Trophy was eventually stolen in 1983 and never recovered.)

The replacement trophy, the FIFA World Cup, was first used in 1974 it was the one I meant and was made of 18 carat gold with a malachite base, it depicts two human figures holding up the Earth. The current holder of the trophy is Italy, winner of the 2006 World Cup.

So exactly what did we gain by the argument that degenerated into malice, bad blood and tension? Nothing!! The World Cup was not a personal or prized possession of any of us, so what it was made of was just trivia, nowhere near as important as the joyous occasion we managed to ruin!!

Even where arguments stem from fundamental issues that are a lot more important than my illustration it’s important to choose our battles with care and decide whether being right is more important than being happy?

Bottom line: letting others be right once in a while augurs well for our wellbeing, than being sanctimonious and isolated. Being happy is a lot more fun than ramming our right we are down everyone else’s throat.

That’s the better way to enjoy our human experience. Religious wars in particular infuriate me especially as almost all religions at their core is based on harmony; the brotherhood of all men! I have never pretended to be anything but a Christian and I have always.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.