Monday, October 29, 2012

Permission to Speak Freely?

Can we agree to disagree? Maybe. A lot of times, however, the answer is ‘No.” Lately, I’ve noticed that many people are downright offended by someone who voices a difference of opinion with theirs. It’s as if reasonable people can’t look at information and come up with different conclusions.

It’s worse now, in an election year. Where I live, one neighbor has had a sign for the presidential candidate he’s backing vandalized several times. I have had another friend (who doesn’t share the popular stance on a particular hot button issue) shouted down and verbally disrespected when she dared to voice her opinion.

In the past, I’ve been ridiculed for my faith just because I included the sentence, “I went to church” when a co-worker asked me what I’d done over the weekend.

It’s one thing to be offended by an offensive statement. It’s another thing altogether to be offended by someone who, while being otherwise respectful, simply does not agree with you. All of us bring our experiences, outlook, and beliefs to any discussion. It is those very things that help us come to the conclusions and develop the opinions that we have.

I’ve actually received ‘lectures’ from well-meaning people who have opposing views to mine. Their belief is that I simply must not have the facts. If they can explain it to me well enough (and in some cases long enough), I’ll have to come over to their side. What they don’t understand is that while we can have a lively discussion, I have my reasons for my particular set of beliefs and they probably won’t change.

The bottom line is to try and respect the person even if you don’t agree with their beliefs and unless they are in your face and truly being disrespectful, then respect them enough to let them have their views. In other words, agree to disagree.

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