Contributor: Steve Wickham
An unfortunate feature of our world today is that people are less tolerant of disagreement. But disagreement can be a good and healthy thing:
1. Disagreement allows you to quietly challenge and prove others wrong – for example, when someone says, ‘you will never recover from… ‘ (they said it like this because it is their experience), you can quietly (within your own mind) disagree, believing if your heart is telling you, ‘No, I think I will overcome this pain, in time.’ Disagreement then is empowering; if they hadn’t have said something we disagreed with, we may not have been equipped with this empowering motivation to prove them wrong and create our own destiny.
2. Disagreement shows us the error of our ways – we all need to be corrected, and, although our pride dislikes it immensely in the moment, when humility kicks in we can begin to agree we were wrong. There, in that moment, is the heart of character challenge and the impetus toward character change and growth.
3. Disagreement highlights what we aren’t seeing – none of us sees everything. God puts others in our lives so we can see more, but again, we need the humility to understand we don’t see it all, that others see more truly than we do at times. This is a good thing. Others make us better than we would be alone.
4. Agreeing to disagree shows the maturity possible in a relationship – in all sorts of relationships, from marriages to friendships to employments arrangements, it is a massively empowering thing to be allowed to disagree – to coexist in that way. There’s nothing more toxic in my view than not being accepted because you disagree – like uniformity and conformity equals unity. It is stifling to be in any relationship where a deep condition is we must agree. We can be unified and disagree. The strongest unity exists in partial disagreement, because there is mutual respect shown when we allow the other person to hold a conflicting view, and still agree on keeping the main thing the main thing.
5. Disagreement proves the truths of perception – yes, this is a marvellous thing. This isn’t just a postmodern phenomenon – it’s always been the case. Two opposing views can be true at the same time. This highlights what the dualistic mind finds tormenting. Accepting that two people who disagree both have a point is the way toward conflict resolution, but both must begin to first appreciate the truth in the other person’s perception. Both have part of the truth. What both think has value.
Whether we are in agreement or disagreement, we are better together:
Better together, though less comfortable.
Better together, though less certainty.
Better together, though less cohesion.
Better together, though more conflict.
Better together, though more complaint.
Better together, though more complicated.
Still, we are better together.