Agree to disagree

By Glauce Fleury

A friend of mine, also journalist, wrote a powerful message on her social media channel about the terrorist attacks that have happened more often than we’d like. You may think, “What does it have to do with a blog about quality of life?” Stay with me and you’ll get it.

Here’s what she posted: “You decide who receives your solidarity and how you do it. What about me? I respect your decision. Likewise, I decide who receives my solidarity and how I’m going to do that. What about you? You respect my decision. I make my comments and you make yours. And we respect each other, as it should be.”

And she continued: “If you believe that everyone should think like you, you’d better be cautious. After all, extremists believe that everybody should think like them and defend the same causes. They don’t respect different opinions. Extremists plan murders, retaliation, terrorism and, then, you know what happens, right?”

Her message struck me like an earthquake, in particular because I’ve spent the last weeks thinking a lot about the human relations. You know, it’s not easy to deal with people. We have very complex minds.

We have different opinions, backgrounds, tastes, preferences, beliefs and religions. We have different fears and doubts. We may even care about completely different issues in life. And that’s okay.

Ten years ago I had a Turkish roommate. We spent hours talking about our different lifestyles and religions. We never argued about a single thing and became best friends. Our mutual respect was so solid that years later she invited me for her wedding in Ankara.

So I packed and flied. What should I wear? How should I behave? None of these proved to be important. I was myself. It was enough to her Muslim family. I was involved with a bit of curiosity and a lot of affection. I felt welcome, cared and respected.

We’ll never enjoy life fully if we let different opinions, religions, beliefs, preferences and lifestyles make or break relationships. We’d better acknowledge that.

In God Never Blinks, a book by columnist Regina Brett, there’s a chapter named You Don’t Have to Win Every Argument. Agree to Disagree.” In this chapter, Regina admits there was a time in life that she thought an argument had to start with two sides and one winner (she).

But, then, Regina met her husband. Bruce is someone with the ability to always say the right thing. She describes him as one of those rare people who — when wrong — “promptly admits it with head held high, ego intact.”

Regina tells that, if an argument reaches an impasse with Bruce, he says, “You aren’t going to convince me and I’m not going to convince you, so let’s agree to disagree.”

Thinking of Bruce’s attitude and my experiences, I’ll repeat to myself (and to you, if you care): if we respect the others’ rights to disagree, love will always win.

How about finishing your next argument with a “I disagree about what you just said, but I love you anyways?”

Photo credit: FreeImages/MarieJeanneIliescu

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