I know a few grammar Nazi’s clicked on this article, because I obviously messed up the grammar in the title. That’s your wrong. The point I am trying to get at however is that you’re wrong. All of you. All of us.
See, I did it again, but there I used authoristic license to inject sentence fragments for emphasis, just like when I coined the word ‘authoristic.’
As a self-confessed grammar Nazi, things like that get mildly under my skin and burn a little. The challenge, however is to remain silent. More often than not, uttering the words, “You’re wrong” is your wrong. No matter how true the statement may be, or how genuine the benevolence that powers it, you usually ought to let people be wrong.
The wrong reason to do this is generally the most compelling. People love feeling like they’re right and hate feeling like they’re wrong. It seems that this reason is so compelling that most people feel compelled not to say anything. Ever. And though this is the worst possible reason to remain quiet, if it should suffice in most cases, I suppose we ought to accept it. The reason that makes this a horrible reason is it is just as self centered as allowing people to err so we can laugh at them. The heart of the motive force here is our own fear. People hate finding out they’re wrong so we do not want them associating that hatred with us, which is a valid fear. The problem is that when someone finds out they were wrong, for years, they will look at us and in their mind they will feel we’re laughing at them.
I’ve been there. I know people who “told me so.” I know people who “told me they told me so.” I know people who remained silent and watched with a blank face while I made some of the greatest errors life has to offer. I knew that the moment those blank faces told me they were “sorry” or “there for me” that they were useless. They were not horrible people and I still love most of them to death, but they are certainly useless people.
I also know people who stood there with a blank face while I made those same errors. Then they picked me up, held me tight and gave me a safe place to recover. It wasn’t until after everything that they spoke. And they did so with a smile so comforting, because in that smile, they said, “I knew, but I hoped it wasn’t. And I knew that I could never tell you, so here I am now.” I have angels in my life.
I also have at least one true soldier in my life. She came to me and said, “I have to say this once, because if I don’t I will never forgive myself, but after I say this I will be supportive of your decision. You are making a huge mistake.” And she stood by it. Until the very end, she was my greatest champion. Finding someone like that is much rarer than finding angels.
The point is very simple. Shoot to be someone’s angel in this regard. Shoot to be someone’s champion, if you are certain you can. And as selfish a person as I am, I implore you to do it for them. Do it so that you can be there after they fall. Do it so they can be in your life after they pick themselves back up. Do it for the right reasons, because the moment you fall, you get a new perspective on everything and you can see, very clearly, who stayed silent because they were too scared to speak. You can also see who “told you so” just so that they could say “I told you so.”
So the next time you want to tell someone that they are wrong for making a certain decision, remain silent unless you can support their decision anyway. If you can support their decision as their own decision, please give them your advice. If you choose to remain silent, remain silent from when they make that decision, through when they fail, and quietly help them up. These are the only true ways to support someone. Either you make a vow to speak against and still defend the person’s decision, or you make a vow to remain silent until they ask to speak after they have failed and started to recover. Every other time you want to tell someone they’re wrong, remain silent.
Everyone will fall. Everyone will fail. If you want to keep good people in your life, do this much for them, so you can selfishly collect your own angels and champions.