War Does Not Determine Who Is Right – Only Who Is Left.

By Bertrand Russell

I write this on September 11, 2022.

This is the 21st anniversary of an event which gives horrific illustration to the acronym WAR – We Are Right.

This terrifying human need that we all have to prove we are right can, when allowed and encouraged, lead us to leave bodies in our wake. People will fly planes into buildings to prove they are right.

And, in response to the events of that day, others in power sent vast resources and people to invade the borders of another country, costing hundreds of thousands of lives – even though intelligence found no evidence to justify these actions – all in effort to prove, insist, demand and force people to say that those who created this war, are right. Even more right than those who flew planes into buildings. Unfortunately, in the escalation of WAR (We Are Right), efforts to prove one is more right than another, one will leave substantially more bodies in their wake.

Even in anticipating the need to prove a greater level of being right, vast resources are devoted to developing larger and more destructive means of leaving greater numbers of bodies, at the cost of greater poverty, more hunger and homelessness, horrific damage on land, water, air and habitat, and also feeding and encouraging the habit of demonizing the “other”, and promoting “us vs. them” rhetoric. Larger, bigger walls are built, cutting great scars across land, as a monument to those who cling to the wall as evidence of their “rightness”, even as more bodies pile up, and more people lose capacity to care.

This deadly habit of WAR is waged in every part of our society. In every political arena, in every town, school, church community, and family.

People will insist that others conform to their “truth”, even when loved ones are in front of them, begging to be allowed to exist and to be loved.

Even when loved ones no longer show up in front of those insisting on their “truth” – either because they leave to go where they have room to breathe, to exist, to love, or because they are no longer breathing anywhere – some will keep insisting on being right. Even as the numbers of their family, of their community, diminish to only those who can fit into a small, tiny, limited space of their narrow, never changing, no room for growth or revelation, “truth”.

This insistence on being right at all costs is the opposite of multiplying and replenishing life. It is contrary to the way God created life in us – by inspiring us to breathe deeply, to exist more completely.

In all our relationships, in all our communities, we have countless moments when we can choose to be right and to prove that “truth”, that “rightness” at all costs – or we can choose to be connected – we can choose to be love.

Today, especially on a day when many might be in front of a mic, and feeling the habit or the obligation to repeat familiar phrases of rhetoric that do not always have awareness or room for the existence and life of all… consider a new practice of looking for ways to have room for those who have a different experience of life, of existence, of God.

Please make room in your mind and soul to be connected, rather than to expend energy on insisting on being right.

We have all left far too many bodies in our wake.


  1. “This insistence on being right at all costs is the opposite of multiplying and replenishing life. It is contrary to the way God created life in us – by inspiring us to breathe deeply, to exist more completely.” Beautifully put.

  2. To me the essence of wisdom is accepting that none of us are completely privy to another’s experience. There’s always something we can’t see. Humility is accepting that we really don’t know. We really aren’t certain. We hope, we trust, we believe, we exercise faith, but most of all we act on Christ’s example of offering love today, to others exactly as they are. We are to leave judgement to Christ, the only person with the resources to see and understand completely the experiences of others. Even he isn’t judging right now, since it isn’t yet judgement day. Imagining you are right and then enforcing your will on others is unrighteous dominion.

  3. People wage war for more territory and other economic benefits. People who perpetuate wars for power don’t much care if they are “right” or wrong. Some Muslims may actually believe God has told them tto eliminate evil westerners. I don’t think they are trying to prove themselves “right’ to us. AndAnd some LDS parents genuinely believe that their child’s life (and eternity) will be better if they do not act on same-sex feelings. I think it is uncharitable to ascribe to them only a motive to be “right.” I agree that unkindness and hostility is wrong. And making someone else uncomfortable because of one’s perception of eternal consequences cannot prove anyone “right” until eternity. But they are other reasons for conflict.

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