Duality of Right and Wrong


The older I get, the less I seem to know. When I was in my twenties, I had an opinion on everything. In my mind, I had it all sorted out as to what was good, bad, wrong and right. The lines were pretty solid, and I took them as rulers to live by. My experiences were so limited due to my time spent living that I wrote my rule book according to what I’d been told.

I chose a reading this morning in Meditations from the Mat about duality.


The irony is that we can’t define wrong without defining the concept of right. In my early days, I was dead set that divorce was wrong. I saw it as a lazy way of getting out of problems, and I looked with judgment on anyone that took that route. And then it happened to me. All of a sudden, the sharp contrast of that duality between right and wrong lost its laser focus. My life, as well as my beliefs, unraveled.

I finally understand how painful that decision was. Sure, for some it may be a lazy way out, but I know for me it was an extremely difficult choice and not one I took lightly at all. I actually had no idea whether it was “right” or “wrong”. I just knew what I had to do. And plenty of people shared with me how wrong I was to do it. Others just stayed away not understanding my choice. I was left with a solid circle of friends who were formerly divorced. Many of them had never even mentioned it. It was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life – but not fun at all. I know why God hates divorce. It hurts like an SOB.

Many of my beliefs have fallen throughout the years about “right” and “wrong”. My words have become softer and more nuanced. Most people have issues that unfortunately get worse and more ingrained over time. Some of those issues are created by things they’ve done to themselves, but many are created by biology or upbringing. I find myself being more compassionate that judgmental. The exception is when I’m hurt by the behavior. It takes me awhile to reframe things that cause me pain because I have to sort through that to find compassion.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t have values and that anything goes. I try to live by that old “golden rule” to treat others as I would like to be treated. And, honestly, that’s one reason I try to be compassionate. I have my moments when I’m not very nice. My faults and issues flare up on a fairly regular basis, and I hope that others will understand that I’m not perfect but that doesn’t make me a bad human being. It just seems civilized to look another person in the eye and respect them for who they are.

Along with compassion, I set pretty strong boundaries. I respect the fact that you want to be controlling and verbally abusive, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to put myself in your path. I limit my closest relationships to those that are trying to be respectful of others, and I tolerate or avoid the rest. It’s not a high-minded goal, I just sleep better at night when I’m under less stress. And being in relationship with people with deep issues causes a lot of chaos. I prefer serenity.

My priorities have changed throughout my life. It used to be important that people saw me as fitting in or doing things “the right way”. Now I focus more on relationships and enjoying life. I try to get in touch with how something resonates with me inside and act according to that compass. If I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep for thinking about it later, I might better bite my tongue. Life is short, and it’s getting even shorter. The lines are fuzzier, and all of a sudden I have realized that the man behind the curtain is just a pissed off child. Everything looks different at midlife, and I kind of like it like that.


4 Comments on “Duality of Right and Wrong

  1. Sharon your first line had me hooked! I often tell people ” I’m not as smart as I used to be. Or either I used to be dumber than I thought I was!
    I read your piece twice ( I don’t normally) this morning. I find I can relate with everything you said. It helps me to hear someone else say what I feel, in a way I can understand and relate to.
    I would think that there are many folks my age that have changed there outlook on life to be kinder, and compassionate.
    This is the second day in a row I have read something that moved my “mind” yesterday I read or should I say listened to. Trey Goudy spoke to a group of collage of kids at Liberty University.
    It wasn’t political in nature as you might imagine, but it gave me insight on how we can and should conduct ourself, if we want to be better communicators with our fellow man. It impressed me. I enjoyed it, as I did yours!
    And that man behind the curtain, hmmm I need to give that some more thought. 😊

    • Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. There are so many scary men and women I’ve encountered throughout my life that I came to realize were not scary at all. I once did an exercise to practice forgiveness, and I was asked to picture someone that had really hurt me. Then I was asked to close my eyes and breathe in their spirit. When I did that, their “spirit” was the spirit of a wounded angry child. I was so stunned. I shared it with the the group, and it was a universal experience. That had a profound impact on me. Have a great day, Cy!

  2. Sharon, this one really resonated with me as well. I realized somewhere along the path of my first marriage that my commitment to not getting divorced, ironically, put me in a place where I stopped focusing on a marriage that wasn’t working. I did try the counseling route, etc., but for so many years I figured that no matter how bad things got I couldn’t leave. This put me in a mindset of not speaking out because I didn’t want to rock the boat and risk being at the other end of my husband’s temper. If you do this long enough and don’t communicate because it’s not worth the risk, the marriage just dies and there’s nothing left. Being able to see these things more clearly and to stop thinking in terms of absolutes and black and white is one of the benefits of growing older.

    • That’s a great point! Unfortunately I know too many couples stuck in a loveless marriage because they can’t reconcile things or leave. I don’t think that’s what God had in mind either. That’s it’s own kind of hell. I’m just so freaking glad you found your way out and into the arms of somebody who truly loves you. You both deserve it.

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