The Price of the Moral High Ground
I enjoy antiques. One of the characteristics that I enjoy about antiques is that when you look at them, they smile back knowingly saying “you are here today, and you’ll be gone tomorrow, and I will be with my next owner.”
Many people like to express their identification with and attachment to the physical world by owning a piece of property. There is a piece of property that many desire with all their hearts, but in reality, no one can afford. Many people desperate for this piece of land sacrifice their reputation, their marriage, their children, and sometimes even their lives in order to acquire it. Some people even make use of the courts to assert their entitlement or to endorse their claim to this special address. When they don’t find satisfaction in the courts, they will risk all that they have spend enormous time and energy attacking even the court until they get their way. While this piece of property is incredibly expensive it is in truth, available to anybody who is prepared to sacrifice enough in order to acquire it.
The piece of property to which I refer is called the moral high ground. The price that one pays for the moral high ground is specified above. Ownership of the moral high ground only has one condition, and that is that you occupy it all on your own. The irony is that clamouring for the moral high ground and occupying it may afford you an illusion of value while the process you sacrifice all that is really important to you.
In situations of conflict, we have to ask ourselves what we are prepared to sacrifice in order to be right, in order to justify our position. In other words, what is the cost of a win and what would you gain by showing some humility, generosity or maturity in making a concession in order to serve the greater good, and to preserve what is really important in life. When we hold on to a view, and we believe that we are defending something really important we need to ask ourselves how the position that we are adopting serves us in some often negative way. For example, if I hold a grudge against someone because of some perceived slight or insult, it could be that what I gain from the grudge is that I then do not have to be kind, or giving to the other person. In other words, my self-justification is simply allowing me to act out my deeper intention of withdrawing my goodwill and contribution to the relationship. To activate the escape clause on your bad deal, just be honest with yourself.