“How do we handle disagreement?” posed my wise friend last weekend. In a fascinating exchange, his question prompted further, unquestionably relevant pondering…
We are passionate people. We have thoughts and opinions and ways we each think are right.
If it’s right for me, is it right for thee? Is it up to me to demand it right for thee?
Sometimes we think so. We think we are to serve as others’ moral compass. We think it’s our place to judge. We think we are somehow capable of making sensible conclusions for others and even able to render appropriate consequences for such obvious errors in judgment.
So what about disagreement? What are we to do with that? I mean, we all know — logically speaking, of course — that we are no one’s Holy Spirit. That’s a divine role; not yours, mine, government’s, etc. None of us are anywhere capable of that.
But perhaps the better question — precisely because of our individual, unique thoughts and opinions and ways we think are right — centers around unity. What is it? What is it not? And can we experience unity even in disagreement?
Unity means to be joined together. Simply put, it is a connectedness — a means of being linked together.
Unity is not uniformity. For my entire kid and adult life, for example, I have been a steadfast fan of the Cincinnati Reds (don’t get me started on ignoring the Hall of Fame credentials of one Mr. Peter Edward Rose, Sr.). From my early days of cheering on the dominant “Big Red Machine” to even now, grimacing when the bullpen gives up another late inning home run, I have long been loyal to one of baseball’s charter members of the National League.
Granted, I am not alone in my fandom. I am connected with countless others in my devotion to America’s greatest pastime in southwest Ohio. We don’t all look, think, believe and behave alike. But we are connected. We cheer and grimace together.
Unity is not agreement. Agreement would mean we actually do all look, think, believe and behave alike. Believe me; there is much disagreement among us Reds’ fans as to which pitcher wouldn’t have served up that late inning home run.
But when we confuse unity with agreement, we lose sight of our connectedness.
How do we not lose sight of what is true?
“We prioritize people,” said my wise friend once more.
We invest. We get to know. We listen. Remain humble. Ask questions.
Is this conversation, is this social media post, is this rant or rave going to help another person grow, be encouraged, or be more mindful of what’s good and right and true?
Who am I ignoring in my rant? Who am I justifying disrespecting?
Profoundly true is disagreement and disrespect are easier with distance; the farther I am from the experience of another, the easier it is for me to draw the judgment line in a place solely consistent with my thinking…
Think race isn’t an issue? Get to know the person of color who was racially targeted. Think race is always an issue? Get to know the person of color who is aware of multiple other factors…
Think Democrats are intolerant hypocrites? Get to know the loyalist, who sincerely believes progressive policy is more compassionate. Think Republicans are arrogant bigots? Get to know the faithful, who sincerely believes conservative policy is more effective. In other words, get to know them. Quit drawing lines from a distance. We prioritize people when we move closer to them.
Moving closer means we humanize. As we move, we feel the connectedness. When we feel the connectedness, we recognize how hollow uniformity and agreement actually are.
Still pondering… so much there…