Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Lesson in Disagreeing

Mr. Butler and I disagree a lot.  As I've said before, we're very different and that gets complicated.  But we like each other a lot too.  Sometimes I get very frustrated, demanding he agree with me or I feel utterly rejected.  And, just as a reminder, he's the safest place in the world for me.

Now think of a group of people - friends, your local congregation, colleagues at work, a class at school - and think about times anyone has disagreed with anyone else.  At their worst, things can get so ugly that there is separation, ridicule and some form of exile.  And I'm not talking at all about discipline situations. Do you dislike people because they disagree with you?  Do they dislike you because you disagree with them? 

I think a lot of people make an assumption, myself included, that is really wrong.  Disagreement doesn't have to mean or equal dislike.  I can say from first hand experience that sometimes it feels like you disagreeing with me is you disliking me, but that's not usually true.  At least not at first.  Most dislike comes when harsh words or flippant attitudes are thrown around and then concern for others flies out the window.

If you're like me and you've seen a lot of ugliness from people (myself included), it's hard to imagine what it's like for disagreements to be calm and productive.  But, I tell you they do exist and can be taught.  Mr. Butler is slowly teaching me, emphasis on slowly.  Let's just say it's very challenging to pull your emotions out of the game of disagreeing.  However, the foundation I'm trying to build on is that disagreement doesn't have to mean dislike.  I'll keep you posted! 
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