Agree to Disagree

When we couldn’t see eye to eye growing up, my mom always used to say, “We will just have to agree to disagree”. At the time, it didn’t really make sense. However, as I’ve gotten older, not only have I come to understand it but I’ve learned to appreciate this little saying. I wish more people understood the simplicity of this way of life. I am not naive to think that everyone will always get along and that all opinions are harmless. But I seem to remember a time when people were entitled to their own opinions and their beliefs without a firestorm erupting. It may be because it’s election season or simply due to the rise of social media but I have found that over the last decade or so, a difference in opinion has become an opportunity for exchanging hateful words. Why can’t we simply ‘agree to disagree’?

I remember talking with a friend about this very topic in college. I explained that I grew up having friends from different backgrounds and different beliefs and how it had never caused any issues. He looked puzzled and simply stated, “How can they be your friends if you disagree with them?”I didn’t know how to answer him. How can you only be friends with people who agree with you? In my experience, that would leave you with a very small group of friends. Why do we feel the need to have everyone agree with us? Is this due to our innate need for validation from others? Do we need people to agree with us to make us feel good about our opinions? Do we see disagreements as conflict? I don’t know what the answer is but I do know this: You will always meet people in your life who disagree with you. That’s part of what makes the human condition so beautiful. Human diversity is not only made up of our sex, race, and religion. It also consists of our different and unique minds. No personality is alike. No experience is alike. No person is alike. That is something to celebrate!

Only you can control how differing opinions affect you and how you react. But I would like to challenge people out there who don’t like to be told “I disagree with you”. I hold some opinions/beliefs that the majority of this world think are pretty wrong. Abortion is a perfect example. I believe that life begins at conception and abortion should be unthinkable. Not a lot of people agree with that statement. Though this is an issue that I hold very dear to my heart, I know not everyone believes that abortion is wrong and I understand their reasoning for thinking differently than me. So instead of looking for a fight whenever this topic comes up, I join in a civil debate and recognize that, in most cases, I will just have to agree to disagree. I don’t cut these people out of my life. If I wasn’t friends with every pro-choice person I came into contact with, I would miss out on getting to know some pretty fantastic human beings. So here is the challenge: contact a friend who you know holds a different belief or opinion than you and do three things…

  1. Have a discussion about that opinion/belief with the goal of understanding your friend’s point of view.
  2. Share your point of view.
  3. Agree to disagree.

I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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