Here's what I'm thinking: The world is not black and white. People are not all good or all bad. I know how much we love having villains and heroes, but that really isn't the way it works.
Think of your personal life. Those times when someone's behavior enrages you, you typically aren't really understanding their perspective or rationale. You make assumptions. You simplify. You get self-righteously pissed off.
But after the blow-up, the yelling, the tears, the silent treatment... if you're lucky, you talk. You listen. And you come to understand. More often than not, you realize that your fury wasn't really so appropriate.
What I want is a number. A number that represents how likely your perspective is to be accurate in any of those times you find yourself indignant. If your perspective were perfect during these moments, this number would be 100.
The number could never be 100.
It is my hypothesis that when we find ourselves angry—at a spouse, at a relative, and yes, even at a ideological adversary or politician—this number, on average, is 24.7—at most. Maybe it's 17.9. Or lower.
Let's call that average the Righteousness Quotient. Every time you find yourself upset about someone else's behavior or beliefs, you know that you're only this likely to be correct in all your assumptions.
My hope is that, if we all knew this number, we'd be a little more patient and circumspect. A little slower to react. A little more inclined to listen and understand. Less likely to go on the attack and dig in our heels.
I think we'd all be happier. Less angry, certainly. We'd probably spend less time excoriating one another. We'd spend less energy whipping up others to share in our fury. We'd think of this number—maybe some of us would even tattoo it on the backs of our hands—and we'd remember to slow down and ask questions and work to understand one another.
I think it might make for a better world.