The Refined Man

The Refined Man Agrees to Disagree



We’re excited to have Johan back for another round of The Refined Man.  Homeboy is passionate + you can feel his conviction in his words.  We’d love to hear what you think about agreeing to disagree…


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?


Johan Khalilian

Photo c/o me:  Kat Harris

2 comments on “The Refined Man Agrees to Disagree”

  1. This topic of disagreement peaked my interest because I think people have a hard time knowing how to behave around people that don’t share their own beliefs. Psychologically our brains want the most efficient way to be able to summarize a situation or person for that matter, so as humans we tend to grasp for things that would more easily help us identify or categorize someone by their tribe . Race, religion, political stance etc. to make a summation in the quickest possible way about who that person is. So I think when it comes to assessing that person, when someone doesn’t’ agree with your beliefs, we take it instinctual personal because they are essentially offending the group that we either chose or didn’t choose to be apart of. I think as apart of human evolution, it’s inevitable and necessary, we are getting more people like Jo who can find the beauty in the difference and instead of using those differences as walls, and utilizing them as bridges for challenge and growth. I have a torrid relationship with the church and because of a differing belief I had, I was essentially kicked out , excommunicated from family and friends, I had known most of my life. Simply because I didn’t agree. I’m glad that I stood up for myself and took my own path but the pain still lives there in my heart. That people could simply turn their backs on you, stop loving you… because they didn’t agree with your ideas. It’s a major flaw with not just religion but politics, racial tension, etc. “You aren’t like me so you can’t understand me” which is incredibly untrue. Being a feelings oriented person, It’s largely overrated to be right all the time because Ideas, beliefs and opinions are just that. The beauty of having all these different people on earth is that no one else is like you. Being right is for the ego but being love is vital. Love is understanding, open minded, and growth propelling. And folks with different belief systems about anything, only open up our world view to allow for a greater unity among our humanity. We don’t and won’t ever agree on everything , but like he said, “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.” While I still to this day hate conflict, I have realized the same thing and the importance of not just these discussions but despite the disagreement , the strengthening of bonds regardless, is a very powerful thing that we need more of.

  2. Great blog entry, I feel like this is a topic we dont talk enough about for fear of hurting another’s feelings but I believe if we can be open and act like adults, we could learn so much from one another. While I can appreciate it when people agree with my views, it feels like they are validating what I believe, I feel I grow so much more when I can learn from someone who doesnt see the world like I do. Getting to know them, asking them questions, and hearing about your life experiences only enriches my being. I sometimes feel sorry for the people who are unable to see value in these types of situations. While living in Spain, at first I felt as if I had to defend America and the American way, but hearing why people thought the way they did allowed me to understand more of their culture. In the same respect, instead of putting my beliefs on the Spanish way, being opened to the way of life allowed me to be immersed in a culture that is oh so rich, diverse, traditional, and modern all at once. I honestly dont think I could be the person I am today if I didnt have such an experience. I am always grateful for these nuggets that mean so much more than the daily chants of, I agree, I agree.

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