Why I’m Not Interested in Being on the “Right Side” of History


I’ve noticed a trend recently. It seems that, as a society, we’ve moved away from making decisions based on their objective wrongness or rightness, and instead started making decisions based on how the next few generations will perceive their rightness or wrongness.

This is an enormous logical flaw and a practical problem because no matter how much we’d like to deny it, the objective rightness or wrongness of an issue does not lie in the past, present, or future human perception of that issue.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, this teenage moral insecurity will be our collapse if we don’t get it together and grow up.

When a society tries to determine the course of its future based on predictions of the eventual emotional perceptions of those past decisions–invariably tainted by equally emotional perceptions of the issue in the present–it sets itself up for a disoriented spiral into relativistic chaos.

This tragic dive into self-destruction is best summed up in the now oft-repeated phrase, “Look, I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.”

I, on the other hand, disagree. I’m not interested in being on the “right side” of history, nor being on the “wrong side” of history. Because the reality of truly objective history is that there aren’t “right” or “wrong” sides. There are just sides, if that. History is multifaceted and above all neutral.

But when we talk about the “right” and “wrong” sides of history, we are acknowledging a reality. We are acknowledging that a truly objective history is nearly unattainable, and the “history” we know is incredibly subjective. It is when we try to stand on a subjective, flimsy foundation that we abandon the solid grounds of reality and consequently find ourselves falling apart.

But none of that is a threat if we recognize the sandy foundation for what it is, and refuse to put the weight of our confidence on it.

So I find this passion for the “right side of history” to be terribly uninteresting, and even repulsive.

Others can think and say what they want about me when I’m dead and gone, but their opinions will have absolutely no bearing on whether or not I was actually right or wrong. Because at the end of the day, it is not the world–not even future generations–that decides such things.

To believe that “we” (the ever-ambiguous “we”) determine right from wrong is insanely prideful and outlandishly, ridiculously arrogant.

Me? Why should I and my finite, flawed intellect have any bearing at all on the external and undeniably objective makeup of infinite reality? Why should little, broken me believe that the immensity and boldness of the universe should even flinch at my temporary and selfish protests to its all-encompassing essence?

I’ll answer that: It shouldn’t, and it doesn’t. Not mine, not yours, not Kanye West’s, not President Obama’s. No one’s.

Remember, God stooped to become human, not vice versa.

So what if, instead of focusing on what I think and the way I want things to be, I opened my mind enough to let the creator of the universe teach me what is? What if I started to discover this foreign reality instead of trying to project my own feelings and desires onto it? If I do this–if I learn to align myself with the unmoving reality that is, was, and always will be–then what does it concern me if a bunch of fragile egos mutually decide that they have an ambiguous, projected “right side” of their record books, and I’m not on it?

It doesn’t.

People can say what they want about who falls where in “history,” but this “history” is obstinately ambiguous. This reality is highlighted well in a showtune, of all things, a number from the hit Broadway musical Wicked:

Elphaba, where I’m from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true–we call it “history.”

A man’s called a traitor–or liberator.
A rich man’s a thief–or philanthropist.
Is one a crusader–or ruthless invader?
It’s all in which label is able to persist.

I’m not getting caught up in the world’s fickle definitions of right and wrong, good and bad, trendy and intolerant, and you don’t have to either. Because at the end of the day, I don’t answer to them anyway. And neither do you.


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