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Rightness and wrongness form a common source of argument and struggle.

The concept of rightness reaches very high and very low on the Tone Scale.

And the effort to be right is the last conscious striving of an individual on the way out. I-am-right-and-they-are-wrong is the lowest concept that can be formulated by an unaware case.

What is right and what is wrong are not necessarily definable for everyone. These vary according to existing moral codes and disciplines and, before Scientology, despite their use in law as a test of "sanity", had no basis in fact but only in opinion.

In Dianetics and Scientology a more precise definition arose. And the definition became as well the true definition of an overt act. An overt act is not just injuring someone or something: an overt act is an act of omission or commission which does the least good for the least number of dynamics or the most harm to the greatest number of dynamics. (See the Eight Dynamics.)

Thus a wrong action is wrong to the degree that it harms the greatest number of dynamics. And a right action is right to the degree that it benefits the greatest number of dynamics.

Many people think that an action is an overt simply because it is destructive. To them all destructive actions or omissions are overt acts. This is not true. For an act of commission or omission to be an overt act it must harm the greater number of dynamics. A failure to destroy can be, therefore, an overt act. Assistance to something that would harm a greater number of dynamics can also be an overt act.

An overt act is something that harms broadly. A beneficial act is something that helps broadly. It can be a beneficial act to harm something that would be harmful to the greater number of dynamics.

Harming everything and helping everything alike can be overt acts. Helping certain things and harming certain things alike can be beneficial acts.

The idea of not harming anything and helping everything are alike rather mad. It is doubtful if you would think helping enslavers was a beneficial action and equally doubtful if you would consider the destruction of a disease an overt act.

In the matter of being right or being wrong, a lot of muddy thinking can develop. There are no absolute rights or absolute wrongs. And being right does not consist of being unwilling to harm and being wrong does not consist only of not harming.

There is an irrationality about "being right" which not only throws out the validity of the legal test of sanity but also explains why some people do very wrong things and insist they are doing right.

The answer lies in an impulse, inborn in everyone, to try to be right. This is an insistence which rapidly becomes divorced from right action. And it is accompanied by an effort to make others wrong, as we see in hypercritical cases. A being who is apparently unconscious is still being right and making others wrong. It is the last criticism.

We have seen a "defensive person" explaining away the most flagrant wrongnesses. This is "justification" as well. Most explanations of conduct, no matter how far-fetched, seem perfectly right to the person making them since he or she is only asserting self-rightness and other-wrongness.

We have long said that that which is not admired tends to persist. If no one admires a person for being right, then that person's "brand of being right" will persist, no matter how mad it sounds. Scientists who are aberrated cannot seem to get many theories. They do not because they are more interested in insisting on their own odd rightnesses than they are in finding truth. Thus we get strange "scientific truths" from men who should know better, including the late Einstein. Truth is built by those who have the breadth and balance to see also where they're wrong.

You have heard some very absurd arguments out among the crowd. Realize that the speaker was more interested in asserting his or her own rightness than in being right.

A thetan tries to be right and fights being wrong. This is without regard to being right about something or to do actual right. It is an insistence which has no concern with a rightness of conduct.

One tries to be right always, right down to the last spark.

How then, is one ever wrong?

It is this way:

One does a wrong action, accidentally or through oversight. The wrongness of the action or inaction is then in conflict with one's necessity to be right. So one then may continue and repeat the wrong action to prove it is right.

This is a fundamental of aberration. All wrong actions are the result of an error followed by an insistence on having been right. Instead of righting the error (which would involve being wrong) one insists the error was a right action and so repeats it.

As a being goes down scale it is harder and harder to admit having been wrong. Nay, such an admission could well be disastrous to any remaining ability or sanity.

For rightness is the stuff of which survival is made. And as one approaches the last ebb of survival one can only insist on having been right, for to believe for a moment one has been wrong is to court oblivion.

The last defense of any being is "I was right". That applies to anyone. When that defense crumbles, the lights go out.

So we are faced with the unlovely picture of asserted rightness in the face of flagrant wrongness. And any success in making the being realize their wrongness results in an immediate degradation, unconsciousness, or at best a loss of personality. Pavlov, Freud, psychiatry alike never grasped the delicacy of these facts and so evaluated and punished the criminal and insane into further criminality and insanity.

All justice today contains in it this hidden error – that the last defense is a belief in personal rightness regardless of charges and evidence alike, and that the effort to make another wrong results only in degradation.

But all this would be a hopeless impasse leading to highly chaotic social conditions were it not for one saving fact:

All repeated and "incurable" wrongnesses stem from the exercise of a last defence: "trying to be right". Therefore the compulsive wrongness can be cured no matter how mad it may seem or how thoroughly its rightness is insisted upon.

Getting the offender to admit his or her wrongness is to court further degradation and even unconsciousness or the destruction of a being. Therefore the purpose of punishment is defeated and punishment has minimal workability.

But by getting the offender off the compulsive repetition of the wrongness, one then cures it.

But how?

By rehabilitating the ability to be right!

This has limitless application – in training, in social skills, in marriage, in law, in life.

Example: A wife is always burning dinner. Despite scolding, threats of divorce, anything, the compulsion continues. One can wipe this wrongness out by getting her to explain what is right about her cooking. This may well evoke a raging tirade in some extreme cases, but if one flattens the question, that all dies away and she happily ceases to burn dinners. Carried to classic proportions but not entirely necessary to end the compulsion, a moment in the past will be recovered when she accidentally burned a dinner and could not face up to having done a wrong action. To be right she thereafter had to burn dinners.

Go into a prison and find one sane prisoner who says he did wrong. You won't find one. Only the broken wrecks will say so out of terror of being hurt. But even they don't believe they did wrong.

A judge on a bench, sentencing criminals, would be given pause to realize that not one malefactor sentenced really thought he had done wrong and will never believe it in fact, though he may seek to avert wrath by saying so.

The do-gooder crashes into this continually and is given his loses by it.

But marriage, law and crime do not constitute all the spheres of living where this applies. These facts embrace all of life. The student who can't learn, the worker who can't work, the boss who can't boss are all caught on one side of the right-wrong question. They are being completely one-sided. They are being "last-ditch-right". And opposing them, those who would teach them are fixed on the other side "admit-you are-wrong". And out of this we get not only no-change but actual degradation where it "wins". But there are no wins in this imbalance, only loses for both.

Thetans on the way down don't believe they are wrong because they don't dare believe it. And so they do not change.

Many a preclear in processing is only trying to prove himself right and the auditor wrong, particularly the lower case levels, and so we sometimes get no-change sessions.

And those who won't be audited at all are totally fixed on asserted rightness and are so close to gone that any question of their past rightness would, they feel, destroy them.

I get my share of this when a being, close to extinction, and holding contrary views, grasps for a moment the rightness of Scientology and then in sudden defence asserts his own "rightnesses", sometimes close to terror.

It would be a grave error to go on letting an abuser of Scientology abuse. The route is to get him or her to explain how right he or she is without explaining how wrong Scientology is, for to do the last is to let them commit a serious overt. "What is right about your mind" would produce more case change and win more friends than any amount of evaluation or punishment to make them wrong.

You can be right. How? By getting another to explain how he or she is right – until he or she, being less defensive now, can take a less compulsive point of view. You don't have to agree with what they think. You only have to acknowledge what they say. And suddenly they can be right.

A lot of things can be done by understanding and using this mechanism. It will take, however, some study of this article before it can be gracefully applied – for all of us are reactive to some degree on this subject. And those who sought to enslave us did not neglect to install a right-wrong pair of items on the far back track. But these won't really get in your way.

As Scientologists, we are faced by a frightened society who think they would be wrong if we were found to be right. We need a weapon to correct this. We have one here.

And you can be right, you know. I was probably the first to believe you were, mechanism or no mechanism. The road to rightness is the road to survival. And every person is somewhere on that scale.

You can make yourself right, amongst other ways, by making others right enough to afford to change their minds. Then a lot more of us will arrive.

L. RON HUBBARD LRH:gl.jh.cden