Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Why We Can Disagree, and I Won't Hate You

I've thought for a long time about this post, and I sincerely hope it is received in the spirit in which it is intended.  Nothing in particular prompted it, but everything in general.  

I have friends and family members of various political and religious persuasions.  As one would imagine, we don't always see eye-to-eye.  However, I am fortunate that we remain on good terms, despite our differences.  How is this possible?

We understand that a difference of opinion can be expressed without personal attack.  

One skill John and I tried to instill in our children was the ability to discuss issues without name-calling or otherwise attacking the listener.  We explained that if they really wanted us to understand a problem, it would help us to hear their explanation without being called "old-school", "dumb," or "stupid."  The same holds true for adults discussing differences.  To have any hope of persuasion, don't insult the audience!

We recognize that we don't have to hold the same beliefs in order to be good friends.

I remember one conversation I had while walking with a friend during the months before the Proposition 8 vote in California.  As we were talking, she said, "Well, Kristi, you know I don't agree with you."  I told her that I didn't know, but I suspected we differed in our beliefs.  What happened next?  I don't remember exactly; it was no big deal.  We went on to another topic. Neither of us was offended; our friendship didn't suffer.  We just agreed to disagree.  

We value freedom of religion, as well as freedom of speech.

My parents are a great example of this.  When my mom was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my dad supported her right to that decision, though he was not baptized also.   They may not share the same religion, and they frequently joke about canceling out their votes at the ballot box.  However, my dad doesn't begrudge my mom's time spent at church, my mom doesn't hassle my dad about not attending, and every election day, they go together to the polling place to cast their ballots.  

We can even differ in our idea of right and wrong without hate.

I absolutely believe that one can have a strong idea of right and wrong without condemning others.  Jesus Christ is the best example of this.  To the woman caught in the act of adultery, he said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." (John 8:11) His words acknowledged her act was a sin, yet his demeanor was one of kindness and love.

When I was becoming licensed for foster care, I met a lesbian woman in one of my classes.  She mentioned to me that she had Mormon neighbors, who were very kind to her.  She asked me what the church's position on  homosexuality was.  She knew that many  religious people believe that sex outside of the traditional definition of marriage is a sin (as do Mormons), but because she never felt personally judged by her neighbors, she wanted to ask.  Even after I explained, she continued to tell me positive things about her neighbors, and continued to chat with me throughout the time we were in class together.  She, and her neighbors, are good examples of how to treat others.  

Why am I even writing this post?

I'm concerned that the trend of taking offense has resulted in gradual loss of freedom of religion and speech, and that if left unchecked, little losses could become bigger losses.  I hope that more people can be like my friends and family:  able to state their opinions while simultaneously remaining on good terms.    

Dallin H. Oaks gave a speech at Chapman  University School of Law on  February 4, 2011.  I highly recommend clicking that link and reading the transcript of his address for a better understanding of the importance of this issue.  In his conclusion, he stated:

We must never see the day when the public square is not open to religious ideas and religious persons. The religious community must unite to be sure we are not coerced or deterred into silence by the kinds of intimidation or threatening rhetoric that are being experienced. Whether or not such actions are anti-religious, they are surely anti-democratic and should be condemned by all who are interested in democratic government. There should be room for all good-faith views in the public square, be they secular, religious, or a mixture of the two. . . .

I am not proposing a resurrection of the so-called “moral majority," which was identified with a particular religious group and a particular political party. Nor am I proposing an alliance or identification with any current political movement, tea party or other. I speak for a broader principle, non-partisan and, in its own focused objective, ecumenical.

I'm speaking up because I'm thankful I can speak up, and I want to remind us all that we can differ without personal attack.

What examples have you seen of cordial disagreement?
 

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Thanks for freedom.

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7 comments:

  1. This was lovely, Kristi. I totally agree and wish for simple curtesy and kindness.

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  2. I think you put it best when you said "We understand that a difference of opinion can be expressed without personal attack." I have a lot of wonderful friends of different religions and different political beliefs. When we discuss those topics we do it with respect and with an interest in learning more about the other person's opinion.

    May I just add that there is a commercial currently running which I find so offensive? It is about a beautiful wedding in a beautiful church and the people attending it end up in a fist fight over who has the best phone for shooting video. Is this really the message we want to send to children? Thank you for letting me share my view.

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  3. Bravo! This is spot on, Kristi. I have nothing else to add. Wow. That doesn't happen often. :)

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  4. Great post Kristi, at this point because of certain events in our Society in the last 10 or 13 years hubby and I are truly the 1% (meaning the minority) in our group of friends and family...so my views have changed drastically and hubby well he is a die hard. Anyway yes it would be nice if we can all get along and I am 100% for it...but with beliefs comes passion and with passion comes intense emotion which is evident in areas of the world and in certain places in America as well...i think sometimes we(society)are driven because of fear which blinds us(society). BTW I truly agree with you, diversity is OK in fact it's necessary but isn't it evident how awesome we(again humans) can be if we put those differences aside and accept one another! :) Thanks, Kristi! :)

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  5. Well said.

    I troubles me that our society appears to be getting more angry and bitter every day. The media focuses on the evil in our world more than the good which in turn creates more tolerance for evil. Satan must be very happy with the way things are going in the world. I may be a Pollyanna, but I prefer to see the good in people and situations and do all I can to promote good will.

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  6. No one in my circle of friends believes as I do. Humanism is my way of life and belief but I am tolerant of whatever others wish to believe in.
    "So many gods
    So many creeds
    This wind, that wind.
    While just the art
    Of being kind
    Is all the sad world needs."
    - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Thanks for making this a conversation. I love to hear your comments!