Can We Disagree with Love?

It's all about love and peace

It’s all about love and peace

I have so many fond memories of growing up in South Dakota, one memory that is still very prominent was our routine of eating supper around my grandma and grandpa’s table and discussing the world’s events. I really enjoyed the healthy debate we would engage in at the table, particularly my grandpa and I. We loved each other dearly and as I began to develop my own thoughts and opinions they were not always in alignment with grandpa’s. So he would challenge my opinions, I loved it, it forced me to really research any issue I believed in or thought I believed in, grandpa could put up a compelling argument and occasionally I could be swayed from my original opinion.

Likewise, I once swayed grandpa’s opinion, I guess you could call it that. While studying Native American Tribal Law there was a particular issue I had really done my homework on and after several days of strong debate grandpa conceded, albeit somewhat begrudgingly. I remember feeling so proud that I could match wits with this man I admired so greatly. I guess it was the same feeling a student of chess feels when they finally beat their mentor in one magical game, only to turn around for weeks and weeks on end afterward never to best them again.

This experience with my grandpa taught me many things that have served me well over the years but the most important lessons were:

1) the confidence to express my opinions and ideas

2) to honor impartiality when fact-finding

3) its ok to disagree with others and for others to disagree with you

4) always maintain your sense of humor

My grandpa and I could vehemently disagree on an issue, engage in a healthy debate and in the end call it a draw. Afterward there was not a single notion of negativity, quite the opposite a great deal of love and respect was borne out of those debates, and high doses of pie a la mode.

That’s why my spirit dips when I see people attacking each other on social media today. It generally starts out with someone expressing an opinion and then someone who does not agree with that opinion sees it and feels the need to tear the person down, not the opinion, but the person. Debate is about the issues, opinions, facts, it’s not supposed to be personal. I was taught to share the facts as I understand them and if after both sides have shared the facts as they know them and we still do not agree, we agree to disagree with love.

I happen to love social media so this is not meant as an indictment of Facebook or Twitter. However, I believe social media is a cautionary tale of progress. We all know it is far easier to hit send than look someone in the eye and recite those same words. People feel safer in the electronic age to abandon all rules of etiquette, which is considered the glue that holds society together. I am seeing more and more signs that we are coming unglued!

Reasonable people are getting into comment wars on Facebook which then degrades into name calling and insults. It’s no surprise people are behaving this way it being modeled extensively in our pop culture and government as well. All of this would make poor Letitia Baldridge’s toes curl, we have US Senator’s calling the president a liar while he’s addressing Congress, we  have reality TV shows like Jersey Shores glamorize impropriety and we have musicians ranting at award shows because they don’t agree with who won. Is this how we want to treat each other? Or better yet is this how we want our kids to be treated or treat others?

What disappoints me more than anything is that we are losing our ability to communicate effectively and fight fair. By fighting fair I mean expressing differing opinions while still treating the other person in a dignified manner. Do we really want to live in a black and white world, with no shades of gray and trust me I am only talking about one shade of gray here not 50, that is for a whole other discussion. Which brings me to my gravest concern, we are losing our creative thought.

So much creative discovery occurs when we dance outside the boundaries in those shades of gray, that’s where the real breakthroughs happen. Many great discoveries came from scientists developing a product for one purpose and it ended up being used for something else. In the black and white world that product would have been discarded to continue to try to find the answer to the original question, rather than changing the question. Play doh was developed originally to clean soot off wallpaper, Viagra was supposed to be a cure for hypertension, Listerine was supposed to be a surgical antiseptic, these and many more accidental discoveries were made possible through creative discovery. Their minds transcended the black and white, even the shades of gray and saw the rainbow of possibilities out there.

I am one of those people who if you send me an email or share a Facebook post I will check the facts, and that goes back to my early days at grandpa’s supper table, one site I like is factcheck.org. One thing checking the facts will do is engage you to form your own opinion and not simply rubber stamp someone else’s opinion as your own.

I have friends and family who are solidly camped on either side of many hot button issues. I can further state that it does not make me love those whose opinion may happen to fall in alignment with mine more than my loved ones whose opinion does not. Again its the opinion we are debating not the person, when we personify these debates and demonize the person who holds the opposing view, that’s where the societal glue falls apart and what do we gain? I’m right, you’re an idiot. Seriously what kind of community can we create from that premise?

So where do we go from here?  We practice peace, love, tolerance, we learn new ways to communicate in healthy ways which breaks the cycle of violent communication. We understand how to express ourselves and our needs without devaluing another person. My good friend Annie Loyd always a shining light here on earth and ready to climb any mountain no matter how high, is taking action toward peaceful communication. Her beautiful manifestation, the Fusion Foundation, is sponsoring a course called  Compassionate Communication, if you are in the Phoenix area I highly recommend this course. If you cannot attend this course I highly recommend the book this course is based on Marshall Rosenberg’s series called Nonviolent Communication, if you allow these teachings to permeate your everyday interactions it will absolutely transform your life and your relationships.

Imagine connecting with the human spirit in each person in any situation at any time. Imagine interacting with others in a way that allows everyone’s need to be equally valued. Imagine creating organizations and life-serving systems responsive to our needs and the needs of our environment. – Marshall Rosenberg

About itrustmyjourney

My name is Marsia I am a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend and engineer. I have been journeying for awhile and decided to created this blog as an extension of my journaling and really as my therapy. I call my blog I trust my journey because that mindset has been such a comfort for me. The landscape of my life has changed pretty dramatically over the past year. All this turbulence in my life has really given me the opportunity to recognize where I need to focus energy and truly understand my purpose here. My purpose is compassion and joy. If my words have inspired compassion or joy please share them with me dear reader.

Posted on March 7, 2013, in Life, Spiritual Journey and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. once again I am humbled by you my dear friend, thank you, – i hope i don’t disappoint with my latest essay Bible Bullies check it out http://www.thefusionfoundation.org/index.php/fusion-foundation-blog/381-bible-bullies

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  2. Great post! What a great life skill, learned with love and respect, at your grand-parent’s dinner table! You are so right; we are losing the ability to discuss things creatively. I have been guilty of judging people who disagree on issues that I care deeply about but, with age, I have been growing more accepting of differences in opinion. Kim

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  3. Marsia…I love when you talk about your family…it sounds like you come from good people who are rich in all the ways that truly matter. Kim

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  4. Hi Marsia,

    I so enjoyed your thoughts on this subject. I hold back on expressing myself on FB because it has become a monosyllabic response board for the opinions held by “the other side.” Some of my best friends belong to different political parties, different religions, etc. I try to honor them on how they bring joy to my life and concentrate on that. Sometimes, it’s just a small seed, but as you know, a mighty oak can grow from a small seed! Wish we could all see the big picture and recognize we are all different, but, somwehere, a tiny seed is trying mightily to bust out from the tough cracks in the dirt.

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