Correction: In last month’s column, I wrote that Mark Workman is running for the Arizona Senate and would be competing against Rosanna Gabaldon in the Democratic primary. In fact, Workman is running as a Republican and neither he, nor Gabaldon, has a primary opponent.

I believe a great deal of merit can be found in things we often refuse to even consider as valid contributions to our own perspectives.

You don’t have to be Muslim to find good in the Qur’an, Jewish to find value in the Tanakh, or Christian to realize the Bible has some decent human principles. You don’t have to be a socialist to read Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. You don’t have to be a Democrat to read the works of Barack and Michelle Obama. And you don’t have to be a Republican to read Anne Coulter or Glenn Beck.

You won’t agree with everything you find in their works, but you might realize the value in some of the principles they put forward.

We tend to dismiss anything that doesn’t directly correlate with our own personal belief systems. And if something, or someone, fits most of the criteria we’re looking for, we’ll rationalize any disparities as acceptable character flaws, endearing human traits or oppositional lies.

If for any reason, somewhere down the line, our belief system is challenged, rather than taking a step back to see where we might be wrong, we double down on our beliefs and vilify who, or what, it was that called them into question.

Here’s the thing, though. No one, not any one of us, can be right all the time. Many of the ideals and principles that we unflinchingly stand by as undeniable truths are very often flawed. Your perception of reality is different than mine, and both are wrong. But it’s OK. Just because we are all wrong doesn’t mean that nobody is right. Everyone has valid experience and knowledge to contribute to the whole.

Think of society as a big puzzle. Each and every one of us has a piece to that puzzle. Our experience in life shapes our personal puzzle piece. It’s our job to find out where the piece fits.

The problem, however, is that we think we know what the puzzle looks like, and we think that the only pieces that matter are the pieces that kind of look like our own. So we refuse to consider that a different shape might also fit. If you were to use that strategy to build a real puzzle, you’d end up with one messed up looking picture, wouldn’t you?

Stop focusing on your own puzzle piece. Check out the different shapes around you and put them together to see if you can connect a few jagged edges. That is the only possible way we will ever get this puzzle finished so that we can finally see the whole picture for what it really is.

(The Wright Idea is a monthly column created by Nogales author Joe Wright in honor of his father’s long-time NI column, The Wright Stuff. Contact him at

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