Is it ever wrong to be right? Let’s hope Todd Akin thinks so. And soon. I’m ready to be forsakin’ Akin — and his bacon.
One of the most challenging things a leader can do is quit when he thinks his interpretation to be the right one. Todd Akin thinks his explanation of his offensive comments about “legitimate rape” are sufficient to dispel calls for him to call off his campaign for the US Senate.
But it really doesn’t matter what he thinks.
Tim Dalrymple has much better rhymes about bacon and a more thorough treatment of the scientific intracies of Akin’s position. John Mark Reynolds notes well that this display reflects poorly on Akin’s mental stamina. Too many other conservative voices are rushing to defend Akin’s pro-life postitions instead of acknowledging this basic life truth:
You can be sure you’re right — and still be wrong.
A Story of My Own
Call them pyrrhic victories if you will, but as a school administrator and church leader, I’ve often found myself in scenarios where winning the argument meant losing all hope for a successful relationship.
One of those times happened a few years ago when a parent revealed that she had been deeply offended by something I had done — or rather not done. At a busy school event one evening, I had met her and husband as they entered. Apparently, I’d offered my hand in greeting to her husband, but not to her. Hence, she had concluded I must be holding a grudge of some sort against her. Three years later, she shared her very real hurt at my rudeness.
I confess I was taken aback. All the reasons for being right flooded my mind:
- I had very little, if any, memory of the interaction at all.
- I knew I had meant no offense whatsoever.
- I was hurt that she would assume the worst about me.
- I had always been taught that a gentleman should never offer his hand to a lady unless she offered hers first. Old-fashioned, I know, but there it is.
- Fifth, I —
It didn’t matter.
When It’s Wrong to Insist on Being Right
None of my reasons for being right in that situation mattered. The only path to restore the relationship would be asking for her forgiveness, assuring her I never intended to send the mesage she received, and focusing on improving the relationship going forward. So that’s what I did.
Had I not done so, I might have won the argument on debate points. But every future interaction would have withdrawn relationship capital I clearly didn’t have on deposit. Reality and humility can be powerful things.
That’s why so many conservatives are forsakin’ Akin. He needs to learn the same life lesson. He’s already asked for forgiveness with his apology. He’s already assured everyone that he never intended the message received. Now he needs to do what is best for the conservative ideological relationship and step aside.
“Ay, there’s the rub….Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” We all want to save our own bacon. All of us who have been in similar situations know that one of the most challenging things for any leader to do is to quit trying to be right when the cost is too great to the cause.
Sometimes, it’s wrong to insist that you’re right.
That’s why I’m forsakin’ Akin. This is one of those times.
What would you do if you were Todd Akin? Have you ever thought you were right but the cost to the relationship was just too high to keep fighting? Share a comment with a click here.