Losing for the Sake of Winning

Henry has finally learned to pick his battles. He no longer has the stomach to fight with with Gabriel, but fighting for Gabriel? Battling to win back his love and affection? He'll take it to the mat.

Henry's regret and eventual transformation are deeply moving, especially to someone like me, who is too inclined to stick to my guns simply because they're "mine." Americans love winners, and that makes admitting error a difficult pill to swallow. Combine the inherent longing for victory with the inescapable fact that some battles are deeply and profoundly worth fighting, and it is small wonder that we are such a contentious society. But heat without light avails nothing, hindering not only our ability to understand the positions of those we have engaged in debate, but our ability to learn from them, as well.

Despite the encouragement of Charlie Sheen and Al Davis, winning is far less important than being right. Our stubbornness and our pride in the validity of our positions can be a valuable tool. But we must never allow that stubbornness—our own deep-seated desire for victory—to get in the way of what is true.

Picking one's battles is incredibly important. So is understanding one's opponent. But knowing how to examine and refine one's own principles once the battle is joined might be most important of all.

11/3/2011 4:00:00 AM
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  • Joseph Susanka
    About Joseph Susanka
    Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. He blogs at Crisis Magazine, where he also contributes feature articles on a variety of topics.
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