Political stalemates and demonstrations in the streets at home, border disputes and international conflicts over justice, religion, and decency are in the news day after day. The local news also reports many instances of people not getting along to point of violence, including gun violence. It seems that might makes right is the rule of the day, not just here in the “wild west,” but around the world.
There is an alternative in open and honest communication, which runs the risk of possible disagreement and contention. Open and honest communication reveals the attitudes of the person and challenges a person’s reasoning, and opens the way to conflict resolution, but it is a lengthy, time and energy-consuming process.
Some people have attitudes and opinions that we will strongly disagree with, perhaps even see as completely disrespectful and/or wrong. As long as people are open to exploring these attitudes with each other there is hope of a satisfactory resolution that strengthens understanding and relationships. An open and honest discussion can lead to people having their ideas challenged, and altered. This is not weakness, but a necessary process. The communication process does not always lead to agreement. Sometimes, you have to agree to disagree.
Often we face people with an attitude that things are black and white, right or wrong. People with this attitude can not accept anyone with attitudes different from their own. There is no give and take of discussion, no willingness to discover ideas you hold in common, no ability to agree to disagree, no ability to compromise, no ability to tolerate differences. These people believe they are right, and anyone who disagrees with any part of what they believe is wrong. Not only must you agree with their beliefs, but you must act in a way they see as correct or again you are wrong.
When up against these inflexible people, it is best to shake the dust off of your sandals and move on. Moving on is a solution that works best with people who you will have no further need for contact with. Sometimes you live in families or communities with these inflexible people and their disapproval looks like hate. Try as you may, peace is tenuous at best.
We have to be better than this. We have to reach out in to others is peace to share our hopes and dreams, and come to understand each other. We have to see the humanity in the face of those we disagree with.