Righteousness often leads to outspoken objections, make wrongs, lots of negatives (mostly about the "other side").  That negativity causes harm to others, as the emotions are contagious and/or inflicted upon others' thinking and mood.  And righteousness gets in the way of finding solutions. very, very careful to avoid it!!!

Jonathan Haidt leads into his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion with this quote:

I have arriven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them but to understand them. 
                                                Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus Politicus, 1676

It is not that people are "bad" for accusing, blaming, opposing, etc.  It is just that while they are doing that they are creating more opposition and more problems and displacing the possibility of devoting our time to create solutions.  (The mind can only think about one thing at a time, so if we are putting a hostile, complaining, and/or non-solution-finding talk/action into the space we are displacing all other actions, including the solution-finding option.)  So much of mankind's creative power is wasted in opposition and righteousness that if we altered that one thing the world be an incredibly, dramatically better place. 

Will you giving up "being right" so that you can start creating good and being part of the solution and no longer part of the problem?

I hope and pray that you do, for your good and for the good of the world.

                                                  The BuddhaKahuna

Q.  But how can I tell if I am being righteous and/or unthinking?

A.  There will be someone on the other side that you feel hostile to.  And/or you will have no real evidence or facts that support the conclusion.  And/or you'll feel threatened in some way if someone has a different opinion or questions anything you say.   See the more detailed test in Am I Being Fair And A Good Thinker? Am I Contributing What I Could For Myself And Others?.   



It is not man who is the problem, but sick thinking – thinking that is devoid of healthy orderliness.

If we engage in sick thinking, we are not “bad” people, we are simply ignorant, operating at a lower level because of lack of knowledge, lack of knowledge to know better and to know enough to be driven toward eliminating our own ignorance and harnessing your thinking toward greater good, for all mankind.

The unharnessed potential for greater good for mankind is immense – we could all, every one of us in this world, be free of poverty, disease, and suffering, and living at a level of great happiness.


This great potential will not be realized (manifested) if we continue to do that which is displacing our ability and applied efforts in that direction.

We are, in fact, doing much of the opposite of what we need to do. 

We are not thinking.  We are existing in prejudice, opposition, emotional attachment, in wasting and canceling out our energies.  We are operating in fear, reacting to “protect” ourselves against non-existent threats.  We are mired in untrue beliefs that we think are truths.  We are making others wrong, which is unthinking exemplified, plus it is wasted effort.

If we took the time to think, if we took the time to understand, we would then free up vast amounts of time to create good and in giving up the harmful behavior of not thinking we would reduce destructiveness in this world and create the environment for much greater human progress….


As I sit here thinking about mankind and where they are going, I both recall the goodness in humans and also the ignorance and fears that lead them down a destructive path, often unknowingly – they don’t “see” what they are doing.  Over the ages the wisemen have attempted to have people fill the hole of ignorance with knowledge of truth, of what is workable in life.  

It is a daunting task.

It is far easier for man to just operate unthinkingly.  In fact, there is an evolutionary function to this, as we needed to make conclusions quickly so we could run up a tree to avoid the tiger – those who thought deeply about what the sound in the bushes was were eaten and so dropped out of the lineage.

But today is a drastically different world.  We now need to differentiate between what is a tiger and not a tiger, who is a real threat and who isn’t.

Is that religious group going to do us in?  Do we need to rail against them?  How about those greedy dishonest businessman taking advantage of the poor worker? 


Does this fear or unreasoned prejudice present a real problem?

Not in one sense.  It is harmless, in one sense, as it doesn’t directly cause anyone being hurt, in most cases.  We only notice it when it results in wars – sometimes we notice it enough when we see a church or synagogue or mosque being burnt down.

But there is another subtle but vastly harmful manifestation of this type of thinking – if we think more deeply about it. 

The fear reaction, the opposition, the time spent focusing on being “against” – all that fills the space in which we could live at a higher level.  It displaces the good we could do with that energy and focus for all of mankind.

While we are railing at how the rich don’t give enough to the poor, we fail to notice that we could do more and that we are not giving “enough” to the poor.  While we are protesting how the other side is being unfair in its treatment of us, we fail to notice how unfair we are being.

We are spending much of our lives on this insidious activity, time we could devote to creating an incredible amount of good for all of us in this world. 

There are two parts to it:

1. Fear – a believed threat
2. Ignorance – lack of finding out what the facts are and filling in the space with believing some non-fact as if it were “the truth”


The ignorance is also a symptom of lack of compassion and empathy, a lack of attempting to see how “the other side” thinks and to see that they are also human being trying their very best to be happy and not to suffer, as the Buddhists would put it in their very useful exercise of “just like me” and wishing nonsuffering to all mankind.  Indeed, those who seek to understand know that ourselves and others are strictly doing the best we can within the limits of what we know or don’t know, that it is a problem of the “other side” simply “not knowing” what is the truth when they assert a non-true erroneous belief.  Oops, wait a minute, that applies to both sides, unless we have conscientiously taken the time to dispel our own ignorance – and if we dispelled our own ignorance it would actually result in our no longer protesting the wrongness of the other side, but instead seeking more good.

Classic thinking error:  Mind reading

We would no longer think that we “know” the motives of the other side and/or that we “know” they are wrong.  We would instead be sure to recall that it is harmful to assume that our beliefs are true without investigating and determining what is actually true.   Basically, we would know that we do not know the facts until we have put in the effort to know the facts (and that even then we could be wrong…).  That is what a wise man does. 

An ignorant, protesting man does the opposite.  He assumes that he is right and the other side is wrong, without investigating and without knowing that he is not necessarily correct without going through the steps to determine what is correct.    Now, it is vital that we do not think ourselves superior to those people nor think that they are “wrong”, for indeed “they are us”.  They are simply human beings doing the best they can to be happy and to not suffer, but limited by the level of their knowledge, of their “knowing”.  Our job is not to judge them, but to help, if it is productive, to cure the actual problem:  the lacking of knowledge.  A human being is simply the receptacle, a brilliant computer brain, but not a brain that is at fault, just one having some wrong information or lack of accurate information.  The human is not the problem.  Only the lack of knowledge is the problem to be solved.

It is interesting to note how politicians take advantage of the lack of thinking by the public and get involved in all sorts of misrepresentations that support their side, but have no real substance.  And they often win the elections.  Sad, but true.

With no malice toward anyone, I engage in the discussion of the areas of ignorance and the continuing practices of what perpetuate ignorance.

Of course, the number one problem is that people are not seeking and finding knowledge before making the conclusion.


A very common example of “non-thinking” lies in a rather large group of people believing that business people or “the rich” are marauding, greedy, overpowering people of whom we are helpless victims – or some version of that.  In their ignorance, they do the typical exaggerating of the unknown, exaggerated by fear thinking, but not based on facts.  

Although I cannot claim to know all businessmen, I do, having been trained in the area, have considerable experience with them, from the non-businessmen dentists running their own business to the highly successful entrepreneur.  I find that the highly successful got that way through “thinking”, through asking “how can I do this better”, “how can I serve my customers better”, “what kind of a product would provide value”, etc.  And it is true that most of them were not thinking “now how can I create jobs for others and have them prosper.”  But that, again, is not their job – and imposing a moral judgment about a non-existing obligation is at the very core of harmful ignorance.  

Despite watching the movies and seeing the evil, corrupted, powerful rich people and the noble battle of trying to win out against them, there is no “evidence” that this is true of the group overall.  This is as ignorant as thinking all of Islam is as evil as the terrorist-murderers that are sucked up into believing that jihad is righteous!  Although such thinking varies in its ridiculousness, it is all on the same spectrum of what ultimately is harmful.

Yes, in all groups there are a few who seek the easy way.  They cheat and steal and manipulate.  But the number of them is quite small.  But the unthinking mind will take a small number of incidences and then generalize them (a common thinking error).  Their “evidence” is that the great majority of news coverage is about crooks and bad people because bad news is good news, in terms of what the media can get attention from.  Good news is, unfortunately, seldom news, in terms of interest or excitement.  


Those who generalize are engaged in “non-thinking”, they are not using their higher brains to do what is called “critical thinking”.  This one of the classic thinking errors, which include

1. “Over generalizing”,
2.  Failure to determine what is fact,
3.  Failure to think things out,
4.  Failure to investigate before "being certain".

One of the areas of non-thinking that attaches to the idea that businessman or the rich are acting against the good of mankind lies in the poor thinking behind the idea of “greed” and the motivation of getting money.   Some people even conclude that money, a neutral form of exchange in physical form, somehow is evil – attributing motive to an inanimate object – a common thinking error. 

Definition of greed: An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.

Do some people get caught up in excessive efforts to assure themselves of things they think they want?  Sure, of course. 

But to what extent?

And is that exclusive to businessmen?

And when is it “excessive”?  Should it be based on “fairness”, a moral concept where one becomes the all-knowing Judge of all things?  (Or a slippery manipulation to get others to join in opposing others?)  Think it out for yourself.


Those who lack wisdom will do things to excess.  The evidence of excess lies all around us.

Overweight, obesity
Large houses far beyond what we need
Keeping money for our children to inherit, more than what is needed.
Killing our children through passing on bad information about eating
Etc. and etc.

Are they to judge others?


Even among those who are well-off and have enough money to last throughout their lives get caught up in how others (the rich, the government, etc.) should do more for the poor people – how awful it is, what’s wrong with those people that they don’t take care of that, etc. and etc.   Yet, if this is a value of that person who protests, then why don’t they protest themselves?   Why do they point the finger of blame elsewhere, when they are doing the same thing.  Why is it better for them to save the money for their own children (as if they have more value than other people simply because they are your children) than to help more to save other children from misery?

If the accusers are themselves not doing anywhere close to the maximum for poor people, if they are keeping more than they need, how are they in a superior moral position to the other people whose character and morals they are protesting?

If they are only protesting and “making others wrong” are they helping or hindering progress.  Are they in fact doing that which would be behavior that is going to create a solution and going to create more good?  Or is the focus on blaming and righteousness taking away, and robbing this earth, from the time and effort that could be devoted to helping others

Ask yourself those question.  Help others to ask themselves those questions, and you’ll be at least moving forces toward the right direction. 


Again, are businessmen or the rich dominated by greed and going against the best interests of others?  Or is that totally made-up, unsupported bullbleep?

Think about it.  Has your opinion moderated?  Do you have more insight into others and how the world actually works and how we might be able to contribute more towards making the world a better place?


Ironically, those who are stuck in trying to survive are mostly stuck, by necessity, in not thinking of higher level concerns. 

Recall, if you will, Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs, where survival needs must be met first, before pursuing the fulfillment or have sufficient attention left to address higher needs.  The next level up is the "recognition" need, which then must be filled sufficiently to move to the next levels, where we can actually rise to greater selflessness and to being "self actualized."  

The gift for rich people, though not all of them are aware enough to use the gift, is that time has been freed up from concerns about lower needs, because they have been more than met.  This allows them to be able to think about higher level needs. 

The stereotypical (hugely prejudiced) view of businessmen is one of excessive focus on making money such that their family relationships suffer from time neglect, plus because they are “heartless, uncaring” people.  Such a stereotype is the result of pure ignorance, without real truth and only with overgeneralization from an abnormal, prejudiced selection of evidence.  

Rich people have the time to think about life – and therefore it is reasonable to think that, on average at least, that they will have thought of higher level concepts and, in that, thought about doing good, about how they can do good and create good.   Not just in terms of giving their money away, but in terms of providing goods and services that benefit others – and perhaps teaching others about concepts that will have them prosper also. 

Their power to do good, and the exercise of that power, though not by all of them, has, in my estimate, done an incredible amount of good for the world.


I put this overall assertion forth not as an assertion that the ignorant prejudiced people are “bad”, but only as an assertion that if the ignorance were dispelled, the conclusions might be different and that thereby they might be freed from their focus of the “other” being wrong – that we might stop this historic oppositional thinking, fear-based non-thinking, evilization of the other side.  If the mentality of the world shifted away from the oppositional thinking, we would get rid of the basis for wars, political fighting, fighting of all sorts, and the waste of energy and the damage of such thinking (non-thinking).   We could have non-oppositional thinking, which always leads to progress since there is nothing competing with the desire "for" something being improved.

Let’s say hypothetically that rich people were more greedy.  Is it because they are rich or are many of them rich because they are greedy?  If some are rich because they are greedy, then should the others who are rich because they produced value but were not greedy be tarred with the same brush?  Some are bad, or perhaps more of them are bad, and therefore they are all generally bad – that is really stupid, ignorant, harmful, damaging thinking.  And that thinking, whatever it is applied to, is sad, as we lose so much by its existence


I write about this not to rail against such ignorance but to urge understanding such that we are able to turn our energies toward that which will remove the damage of the ignorance, of our “againstness”, of our being right, of our being righteous, of the “other people” being wrong or full of bad motives or evil or…

Indeed, the old bumper sticker in the ‘70’s stated the underlying truth in a simple way:  “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” 

If you’re doing anything other than seeking solution in a productive way, you are taking part in not solving it and perhaps actually hurting the progress.  It is interesting that people do not see that their protests about others who are perceived wrong are in themselves negative and harmful, oppositional and division creating. 

Indeed, the politicians are engaging in such rhetoric, which may be out of just plain not understanding how things work and/or may be from political advantage.  In any case, the public would best be focused on holding them accountable for producing positive solutions and not being waylaid by political advantage or righteousness.



Jonathan Haidt, whose previous book as a psychologist was The Happiness Hypothesis, wrote a book entitled The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion.  That book can be coupled well with The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer, where we fill in the unknown often with nonsense or at least unreasoned, unfactual beliefs and then operate our lives ignorantly on them to produce what ultimately is the logical product of ignorance – that of uselessness and/or harmingness, often along a spectrum from waste to being highly damaging and destructive. 


In politics, you can see some superb examples of this insidious force.  Even some top “leaders” are focusing on not using civil language toward others but blaming the other side for their not compromising to come to agreement, when in fact the agreement was not reached when those leaders refused to compromise to come to an agreement.   The irony is that agreement is only reached when BOTH sides compromise, come to a meeting of the minds.  The “blame” for nonagreement is on both sides.  Yet people will buy into the accusation that it is the “other side”.  Such ignorant “leadership” leads to destructiveness and non problems solving.  It is more about “being right” than about making progress.  It is in fact problem creating rather than solving.

Yet we are in a great political battle that we protest about but somehow accept as that being “the way things are” or it being “those danged politicians” or “it must be the fault of the lobbyists” (as if we are helpless victims with no brains and no will). 

Each person who buys into all of this is, indeed, being part of the problem and not the solution.  We need to teach children to not engage in victim thinking (blame, entitlement, dependency) and to teach them self reliance and a viewpoint of being progressive rather than oppositional.


Thinking Contents/Links

The Believing Brain - We come to conclusions from false beliefs or wishful thinking - and then we believe them!

Wrong Thinking And Cognitive Distortion - Perhaps you should avoid this (!).

The Checklist For Effective Thinking - The Vital Life Skill For Effectiveness In Life

No Payoff Convincing, Persuading, Correcting - Just don't do it!  It doesn't work AND it'll probably produce some negative results!


The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion, Jonathan Haidt 
His book before that: The Happiness Hypothesis

How we end up in righteousness:

A book that covers the rest related to how we "unthink" and come up with some very false beliefs: 
The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer