Kat + Em
Obama is a socialist.
Racism doesn’t exist anymore.
Jesus is God.
I’ve heard these phrases dropped at family gatherings or while hanging out with friends. If you’re at the dinner table, everyone takes a sharp breath of air, suddenly so much more interested in the plate set before them. “Why don’t we change the subject?”
Most people don’t know how to disagree. If you meet someone with a different point of view it can get personal very quickly. He’s a Democrat, she’s a Republican and they’re at each other’s throats about their stances on immigration. She’s an atheist, she’s a Muslim, they blame one another for the problems in the world.
What would it look like to disagree with style? Why do we allow differing opinions to move us apart instead of closer together? If you travel to another country do you you get agitated because they don’t view time the same way you do? Or that they may care about the community over the individual? A smart tourist doesn’t try to impose their world view on the on the people and places they visit.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” -Mark Twain
Life can’t be experienced without disagreement. We look at the world differently, we’re shaped by the neighborhood we grew up in, the faith (or lack there of) of our parents, the people that broke our hearts. It all plays a part in what we value.
If life can’t be experienced without disagreement, how have you chosen to respond? Do you nod your head in agreement when someone says something you think is absurd?
To me, being agreeable is cowardice, and just as insulting as calling someone ignorant for having an opposing view. Do you walk away? Start a fight? Condescend? Patronize? What’s your weapon of choice?
When someone doesn’t believe what I believe it’s an opportunity for me to ask questions, be challenged, serve, and grow.
I believe in God and I have friends that think the notion of a Creator is foolish. One of my good friends is a college professor, an atheist, and anarchist. That doesn’t deter me from calling him one of my best friends.
I remember a conversation we had about our prison systems. He believes America needs a complete overhaul in that arena. I partially agreed with him, and from there the conversation progressed to the problem of evil. It was at that point that we disagreed. He believes all forms of evil are a result of societal conditioning, while I believe evil is the result of our separation from God. We tossed our views around for a while, then went to dinner and talked some more. Told some jokes in the midst of our exchange and walked away, not as enemies but as stronger friends who understood and respected each other more.
My friendships with people who don’t share my beliefs have broadened my perspective on life, helped me see the world differently, and challenged the ways I live.
What if we chose to see an opposing view as an invitation to a new world? Disagreement is an invitation to see, hear, and feel something new. It’s a ticket to explore new lands. Is your passport ready?
Photo c/o me: Kat Harris