Brexit -Remain Or Leave
Liberal/Progressive left wing or Conservative Rightwing
Pro life or Pro choice
Feminist or Anti feminist
Millennial or Baby boomers
Christian or Atheist etc
There is so much for us to disagree on these days.And what makes it more interesting is that we no longer have to be in the same room to argue .We could be thousands of miles apart and have an argument with hundreds of people all at the same time.
Labels,sides,viewpoints, opinion,or whatever we choose to call them but now more than ever it seems we all have a side that we pick or agree with. There can’t be s middle ground.Even people who share similar world views eg People of the same faith have differing views on things like theology or doctrine.
We can’t run away from disagreements or conflict as they are an invariable part of life .Even my 7 year old son disagrees with me on the fact that I think spinach is a tasty vegetable.
This conflict is manifested in various ways.You posted a comment on a post on social media.Your opinion.Your take.And then you get that notification.Someone has felt the need to tell you that your comment is wrong .Or it could be the other way round and you see a comment that you feel you just have to ‘correct’.
Sometimes it’s a healthy exchange.And sometimes you see a long exchange of one person trying to make the other person see how their opinion is wrong.And then you get the worse case scenario -personal insults are hurled either by one party or both.
I know,you don’t comment on social media,it could be a comment at someone who is speaking on the television. I know I do that. Yeah i talk at the tv when I think someone is making absolutely no sense and these people tend to be politicians. It could be someone who is a public figure that you disagree with because of what they stand for .Or it could be someone who just told you they don’t believe in what is central to your values or identity. Disagreements or conflicts especially on differing beliefs tends to come into our lives through various ways.
We all have the urge and tendency to want to influence or persuade others to our ways of thinking or beliefs . It’s innate. And because our beliefs and values tend to shape the way we view the world,it’s also the easiest the way to put people into groups.And if that ‘group’ is not my group,then we can have nothing in common.
A lot of times this belief comes from a place of conviction.And I am always a fan of people who are full of conviction .After all it is said that if you don’t stand for something,you will fall for anything. But a lot of times, we don’t recognise that need in another person when it opposes what we believe.
If I believe what I believe so strongly then why can’t that other person believe what they also believe strongly? People will often reply that the other person’s view is based on lack of facts or evidence which is why they need to be educated. This could be true in some cases(a lot of times actually) but I find that arguing or calling each other names hardly is the best way to achieve that aim.
We have given a new meaning to tolerance. We believe tolerance means that we always have to agree with each other all of the time .If they don’t agree(or even in some cases approve ) with us then they are against us. The lines become blurred and we can’t separate the issue from the person.
As Rick Warren rightly put it (paraphrased)
‘Tolerance used to mean I may disagree with you completely but I will still treat you with respect. There’s a difference between tolerance and approval’
I don’t have to agree with you to treat you with respect. Tolerating your view does not need to mean that I approve of it. I could disapprove or disagree with your views but it does not need to mean that I should disrespect you .
And while I agree that some people’s beliefs are a direct threat to the rights of others, I believe those might need to be debated and acted upon in different circles or as a collective to bring about the change required e.g civil rights movement, the suffragettes fight for the vote etc
However on a personal level,I believe that one of the ways we can thrive together in this world is the ability to understand that other people will not always believe what we believe. And even as much we hope that people see our viewpoints,there will be a greater peace in interactions if we can separate the person from the viewpoint.Sometimes we can convince or bring people to see our point but the most effective way to do this is sometimes listen and try to understand why they believe what they believe. We also have to be comfortable with the fact that we can’t always change another’s persons views.After-all, most of us are products of our upbringing,experiences and environments. Besides the world be boring if we all think and view issues alike.
My faith plays a major part in shaping my world view and one thing it teaches me is that every human is created in the image of God. And so while I might disagree with all they stand for, they are still human. I might dislike them but I can’t withhold compassion for the human that they are. Wow is it hard, but it is what I aspire to.And I think it is what we need to aspire to in this very very divided world that we currently live in.
Conflict when handled correctly can be quite healthy but it ceases to be healthy when it begins to stray into combat. So this week, let’s pause at that point when we begin to feel disagreements turning combative.
It’s peace for the world but also peace for our souls and spaces.
Thank you for reading and hope you have s lovely week ahead.