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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When We Disagree

Life is full of debate, differences of viewpoints that require that one person disagrees with another. That, of course, expands to one group disagreeing with another. For the most part, these debates may largely go unrecognized. That is, many people aren't arguing their point; they just hold their position.

These positions are in all areas of life. "This is what a mother should be." "That is what a father should do." "This is what marriage is." "This is what parenting ought to be." "This perspective on abortion is right." "No, this one is." "The economy needs that to happen." "If this doesn't occur, the nation will be in trouble." "If you elect (fill in your favorite candidate to hate or your favorite opposing political party), we'll all be miserable." "The Bible teaches this." "No, that." "No, nothing at all." "No, far more." "Calvin/the Pope/Arminius/My favorite teacher is right." "Nope!" "This is the right way to wash dishes." All areas of life.

You can likely pick up your favorite positions and you may even be able to defend them, whether it's how to tie a shoe, who to elect, or what the Bible says, but have you ever considered what you're saying behind the argumentation? Most of us don't think about this side. Let me use politics for a moment to explain, but when I'm done you can use it to look at whatever your pet position might be on your pet topic.

Obama is considered by many as the man who can unite us all. (Remember, I'm using this as an illustration. Don't read this as an attack/defense of Obama.) He has the right ideas, the right goals, the right plans. He can give us ... x, y, and z. (Fill in your favorite things you are expecting from Obama.) You know, however, that there are many who disagree. Many dislike the man. Many disdain his ideas. Many oppose his positions. Many, in fact, consider them dangerous. So, if you are an Obama supporter, here is what you are saying to all those who disagree. "I know you disagree ... but you're wrong. You're so wrong that we need to fight this out. You're wrong and I'm right and I am hoping to force my rightness on you by voting my man into the office."

Pick any political party, any viewpoint, any biblical interpretation ... it's all the same. "I'm right; you're wrong. If I can, I will force my view on you. If I can't, at least I will make my voice heard, hopefully over yours. You don't know what's best; I do. In fact, it would be best if you'd just sit down and shut up." (Note: My mom taught me to never say, "Shut up." That was for effect.)

We need to stand for what we believe. All of us do. You can't say, "Well, I guess I'm just too stupid to think about it." And some of these issues are far too important to simply say, "Well, whatever you want to believe ..." I'm not suggesting, "Why can't we all just get along?" And just because you are saying that someone is wrong and you are right doesn't mean that it's not true. Perhaps, though ... just maybe ... when you approach a discussion with someone with whom you disagree, it might be possible to keep in mind that when you disagree, you will be suggesting that your view is right and theirs is wrong and there is something wrong with them that prevents them from seeing what you, in your vast wisdom, have figured out. No, that wasn't what you intended (at least, I hope not), but if you see that it could be heard that way, you might be able to regulate your approach to take into account the other person. I might call it "courtesy" or "charity." The Bible might call it "love your neighbor." I highly recommend it.


Jim Jordan said...

Interesting points from a veteran Internet debater. The funny thing is that when a liberal commenter reminds me to "love my neighbor" in the middle of a debate, it ususally means "shut up, you" as in that Matthew 25 letter reprimanding Sarah Palin for playfully mocking Obamamessiah.

Stan said...

Have you seen this? It puts a whole new spin on the "Obama as Messiah" concept with a new twist on "virgin birth". :)

Jim Jordan said...

ABC News reporter - "The son of a black man from from Kenya and a white man from Kansas."

Hmmm. The first offspring of a gay wedding. No wonder they call him the Messiah! :-) We should all be proud....