This I Believe

Jeremy - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on June 29, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe I am always right. I know it sounds arrogant but I act like it all the time. Sometimes I am so right I will argue my rightness even if I’m wrong. It is a skill I learned from my three older brothers.

This is why watching a sporting event is so emotionally conflicting for me. On one hand sport feeds my competitiveness which was groomed by years of fighting those three older brothers over the last piece of pepperoni pizza. On the other, I get angry when an official blows a call or an umpire misses a strike. They should always be right or be fired.

I can remember a conversation with my oldest brother my senior year of college. For four years I had stopped by his house every so often to get a home cooked meal from my sister-in-law and to argue with him. We loved to argue. We would argue about movies and music, religion and the media. I would defend my music collection of raucous bands based on their musicianship and he would condemn them as heathens based on their lyrics. Meanwhile, he would slap down a Right Bower, taking yet another hand of Euchre like it was the last piece of pizza. It was clear I was still his baby brother.

But now, I was a man. I was about to graduate from college and my confidence was ripe for war. Any previously negotiated cease fire was void. The argument began. I was good. I was right. I was not the punk teenager he had known me as. My lucid diatribe about some issue that has since faded into a distant foggy abyss would prove just how right, and therefore manly I was. I was on the verge of establishing my manhood with the alpha male, the firstborn son.

And then I crossed the line.

The conversation stopped. After a silent moment he asked if I knew why he appreciated our arguments so much. “No,” I replied. “Because I learn so much,” he answered. “Touché,” said the pussy cat. I was dumbfounded. Learn? Learn? I worried about being right and proving you wrong and you’re learning? I didn’t need a ref to call this foul.

The alpha male just confirmed his alpha status. I have never felt so humiliated by such a humble comment. The immature part of me resented that it came from my brother. But through God’s grace and 4 years of college I was mature enough to recognize defeat and listen to my elder. He was not arguing to prove he was right, but to learn who I was as a person. I now saw him in a whole new light. He was right not because of the content of his argument but because of his reason for arguing. And so I believe arguing is not about being right, but listening to who a person is. Trust me, I haven’t been wrong since.