John Andrist: It's Good To Be Right And Better To Be Kind


My church pastor preached a few weeks ago on the theme, “It’s better to be kind than right”.

It has resonated with me ever since, and I invite you to spend a couple minutes meditating on the thesis.

Perhaps it rang my bell because I’m one of those guys who has had a long struggle with accepting the possibility that I might not be right all the time.

I often read a conservative blog, because I share some core values with the writer, a guy named Rob Port. He stimulates my thinking, even when I disagree with him, as I sometimes do.

And I got suckered into the discussion with those who were responding to a post, something I promised myself I would never do.

Blog responders are mostly anonymous, intemperate, judgmental, and anything but kind

They dash off knee jerk reactions, and probably would write much more thoughfully and civilly without the mask of anonymity.

When anybody prefers to write anonymously, what they have to say rarely tends to be temperate or kind.

That said, unkind people tend to be an anomaly in our lives, notwithstanding the tenor of discourse in the current political debate.

In all the days and years I spent knocking on doors to beg for votes I was always amazed at how hospitable folks are when you knock on their door, even when you are a stranger.

Most of those who were not inclined to vote for me were more often reticent to tell me so than to be unkind.

So too, as a writer with strong opinion and a propensity to share my views, I know there are legions of readers who disagree.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]In all the days and years I spent knocking on doors to beg for votes I was always amazed at how hospitable folks are when you knock on their door, even when you are a stranger.[/mks_pullquote]

But it’s difficult to tell who, because most people respond either by saying they like it or by quietly being kind.

To be sure, few of us who are dedicated church goers are always kind, but it is pretty rare that you see any of that unkindness when we are at church.

I’ve always felt the behavior of churched people is not that much better than the unchurched. But perhaps it does reflect a desire and an inner need to seek a higher ground.

So cut me some slack. When I don’t sound kind, at least I am trying. You can try, as well. It’s worth the effort — even better than being right.

Convention attendee

I spent part of my weekend at the state Republican convention, primarily because I couldn’t resist an opportunity to see, shake hands, and hug so many dear friends.

It was the biggest convention I ever attended — nearly 1,700 registrants and probably another thousand alternates, guests, and vendors, and it taught me that a gathering that big is not a good place for old, less pliable people. . . particularly after standing in a wait line of 15 in front of the mens’ bathroom.

It was interesting for me to realize how much the party faithful has shifted to the right. But truth be told I think all political thought has shifted somewhat right in the past couple decades.

In the tight three-way race for endorsement for the governorship, Wayne Stenehjem, arguably the most popular political figure in the state and a political centrist, needed two ballots to squeeze out a victory over Rick Becker, a guy so conservative he didn’t even buy an ad in the convention program.

I think Stenehjem appealed to those feeling love and loyalty, and Becker attracted the no-nonsense conservatives.

There was a wild reception for Ted Cruz, and for Ben Carson speaking as a surrogate for Donald Trump. Neither is my choice, but they are still the Republican front runners on the Republican side. Cruz and Trump represent more evidence of the conservative swing, Bernie Sanders notwithstanding.

And yet, it is not conservatism as much as it is rebellion against the political establishment.

But the overriding thought I took home from the convention was far more positive than that of outsiders waving banners for Trump and Sanders.

Political parties, like church, school, and civic activists, don’t always get it right. But their passion to make things happen is undeniable and admirable in my world.