Louisa Claire


Let’s Agree To Disagree

I have an opinion. Lots of them, in fact. I’m partial to sharing them occasionally…and sometimes while I respect another person’s decision not to agree with me, I *gasp* don’t always respect their decision. In fact, sometimes I think that another persons decision is wrong.

Telling your child that they are stupid and worthless? Nope, don’t respect that. Actually think that’s bad parenting. Yep, I said it bad parenting.

Feeding your baby coke? Let’s throw that into the bag of bad parenting too.

Cheating on your spouse? I feel pretty strongly about that too – human relationships are complex but cheating is such a betrayal. I don’t respect that decision, I don’t see it as a valid “I say potato you say potato” situation.

There are other things that I think that I’ll keep to myself, for while they are opinions I hold to strongly I’m mindful of the diversity of human nature and experience and am not arrogant enough to blithely dismiss another’s for the sake of making a point in this post. Which is really what’s at the crux of the idea; that some people don’t care about the validity of another’s opinion and will roll right over it with a monster truck of a mouth. I know, I’ve been there. Regretfully, on both sides.

But the fact that some people are idiots and others make mistakes doesn’t mean we should reduce the argument to “we all have to respect each other’s choices 100% of the time”.

A value that says we need let each other do what’s best for us actually impinges on that very same thing – in my opinion there are some values that are more important that respect. More that that, it’s a truly adult centric and individualistic view of the world; “do what’s best for you” doesn’t leave space for the other half of the picture – be they a child, a partner or passing bystander.

When you live your life just doing what’s best for you, people get hurt. Even to broaden it slightly and say “do what’s best for your family” is to suggest that somehow we live in a vacuum, where the decisions we make within our families don’t impact on other people and their families. Though of course, they do.

The more we embrace a philosophy that keeps the focus on ourselves and not on the broader family and communities that we are part of the more isolated we allow ourselves to become.

That’s not a world I want to live in.

I’m uncomfortable with a mantra that says “you do what you do and I’ll do what’s do”. It doesn’t allow for real reflection and discourse about the big issues of our time and yes, some of these issues are deeply personal and uncomfortable to talk about. Yes, sometimes we will feel judged and angry and sometimes we will be judged and angry. We will naturally react in defense of our choices, but hopefully we’ll also reflect on them.

Not talking is worse, so much worse. Isn’t that why we blog? And why we read blogs? The minute bloggers buy into the idea that we all have to smile and nod and not say what we think, not say things that are hard and awkward and controversial – not just for the sake of it, but in pursuit of real dialogue…we lose one of the most precious aspects of blogging and the blogosphere.

I’m not ok with that.

So let’s not agree to disagree, let’s talk it out – respectfully, honestly and humbly, together.

Do you shy away from saying what you really think in the pursuit of “togetherness” or do you think a bit of diversity is a good thing?

Thoughts on “Let’s Agree To Disagree

  1. I usually keep my mouth shut and here’s why: the name calling. I like that we all have different opinions, and I enjoy reading what others have to say on all the various topics of the day, but I just don’t get the anger that comes out sometimes. For example: I don’t like cole slaw. At all. I can’t imagine why anybody in their right mind would want to eat it. BUT, I don’t want to outlaw it, and I don’t mind if other people think cole slaw is their version of heaven. ( As long as they don’t insist on sharing it with me.) But here is what happens all the time on the internet: I say, “I don’t like cole slaw”, and the response that I will get is “Well then you’re evil, and I hate you, and I hope they take your children away from you, and you are fat and ugly, and I hope your husband is cheating on you, and it is people like you (who don’t eat cole slaw) that make this world such an awful, horrible place. So go away and die, you filthy, smelly pig.” So, as you can see, expressing my opinion doesn’t always feel safe to me. Sometimes it feels like there are, indeed, thousands and thousands, perhaps millions, of people who would prefer a world where everyone thinks exactly as they do. I think that is sad.

    • I think that is sad too Alicia. And the name calling is pure ugliness and happens far too often. There are some things I feel really strongly about but wouldn’t blog about for fear of that reaction…I don’t know what that says about me, but I admire and appreciate those who continue to speak up, even in the face of great opposition. Sometimes I wish I were gutsier, because I don’t like the idea of world in which “he/she who shouts loudest, wins”. x

  2. Interesting post Louisa and I’m sure it will generate a lot of discussion.
    I am happy to say what I really feel in most situations but if it is a ‘value-ridden’ discussion (e.g.., politics) then sometimes I do not see the point (if it becomes heated) as it is so subjective and while I may be in complete disagreement with someone else’s viewpoint, I understand that we could both continue to talk until we were blue in the face and no one would budge…so I prefer to listen to what they have to share and ‘agree to disagree’.

    I think most people would agree that giving coke to a kid is a poor choice in nutrition and hurting a childs psyche with unkind words damaging and unfortunately the parents who most need education and support are the least likely to seek it. But, I gave my kids chocolate for breakfast on the weekend and I’m sure I have called my daughter ‘silly’ more than once in her short life.

    The thing is that when we decide whether something is right or wrong, we do that through a filter of values – these are man-made constructs, shaped and determined by countless things and do not usually move much by the time you hit your mid-20’s. We just keep looking for information to cement the values we already have and reject the ones to the contrary….As such we often make judgements like my values are better than your values and I am going to try and force them upon you so that you stop being so ignorant.

    I agree that we should be thinking of others – our families, communities, the whole planet at times but I can only work on myself, so thats where I begin.
    kirri recently posted..Rockin Mamma Interview with Deb DaneMy Profile

    • “The thing is that when we decide whether something is right or wrong, we do that through a filter of values – these are man-made constructs, shaped and determined by countless things and do not usually move much by the time you hit your mid-20′s. We just keep looking for information to cement the values we already have and reject the ones to the contrary….As such we often make judgements like my values are better than your values and I am going to try and force them upon you so that you stop being so ignorant.”

      Wise words Kirri, I guess my hope is that by seeking to be aware of these things we can have a greater sense of openness to the insights and wisdom of others, even if we don’t agree with them. One can hope anyway… ;)

  3. I just started a comment then realised I couldn’t really share what I was going to say with you.

    Anyway… the problem is that people hide behind a screen on the internet. They can say what they like with little or no consequence. So their comment gets deleted or they get banned. There is no other consequence because you are just words on a screen to them. Face to face, they wouldn’t DREAM of saying the same things to your face and it is so so easy to get entrenched in a position. I know for a fact that I stick at a discussion longer online than face to face. If I have that sort of discussion with a person face to face, I very quickly suss if I can have a reasoned discussion with them and if I think they’re not going to change their mind, I just shrug and change the subject. I know there have been some almighty blogging fallings out, which can make for some awkward blogging events when both parties happen to be present.

    I don’t name call unless seriously provoked and I’ve walked away from many a flaming but that’s because I have been online for a long long time now – something like 15 years or more. People are still working out how to behave and because there is so little restriction on people’s behaviour, they get away with it and move onto their next victim. I think websites need to start getting more proactive dealing with cyberbullies and name callers so that the internet remains a place where people can say what they like without fear of victimisation.

    Phew. Got there.
    Kate recently posted..Say what you see…My Profile

    • Thanks Kate, so many great points. The facelessness of the internet can be a powerful thing – for good and evil, you’re so right! I know a blogger (probably more than one) who deletes any rude comments made on her site, she wouldn’t accept it in person, so won’t accept it online. Fair call! Everyone has their own comfort levels with that, and when it gets to name calling and the like, there’s no rational way forward. It’s sad that what could be a place for robust, healthy conversation so quickly degenerates into nastiness :(

  4. Hmmm, interesting.
    I think I can see what you are trying to say…
    I often use my best friend and I as an example. We disagree alot. Sometimes we agree. When we do disagree, we will give our point of view and we will have a healthy debate about why our points of view are the best of course, sometimes points that are made are great food for thought and definitely get us thinking about our approach to things, sometimes we end up at a similar point but mostly at the end of it we still disagree. And that’s ok. So that’s where I have to disagree with ‘lets not agree to disagree’ as I think it is fine not to agree. We respect each other’s choices even if its something that we wouldn’t do personally. We might disagree with what the other person is doing but we respect our dignity of risk, dignity of choice. We never name call or judge each other. We have been friends now for 20 years this year and I honestly think we will be for a long time, till death probably.
    Just this morning I wrote a small part in my Sunday Reflections about opinions on controversial topics. I’m kind of with the first commenter.
    “I read ‘discussions’ on the social net in wonder, which makes me more inclined not to put my opinion out there (on my blog or FB page) about ‘controversial’ topics for fear of judgement and personal attacks. I have great respect for those who have courage to do so but I feel like I honestly don’t have the head or heart space to deal with direct nastiness. I know I am a super sensitive person and would take things to heart so best to avoid these things if possible :) Call me spineless but I think it would be wasted energy for me personally. I think there is enough out there already anyway without me getting a ‘discussion’ going lol.”
    Having said that, if I see a discussion already started, I may add my two cents, diplomatically and respectfully.
    Neen recently posted..Sunday Reflections (w/e 18.2.2012)My Profile

    • The personal attacks are just awful, and make me feel grieved for the state of the world. I would like to think there’s a way to have conversations in a more healthy way, but I also think I am the kind of person who is inclined toward debate – not of the aggressive variety (definitely not), but of the open and honest type. Maybe ;)

  5. *small correction – above where it says
    “So that’s where I have to disagree with ‘lets not agree to disagree’ as I think it is fine not to agree.”
    Should say
    “So that’s where I have to disagree with ‘lets not agree to disagree’ as I think it is fine TO “AGREE to disagree”
    Neen recently posted..Sunday Reflections (w/e 18.2.2012)My Profile

  6. For me, it depends on the person and the discussion.

    Sometimes I can be the head strong person who doesn’t want to hear what other people have to say because it is my choice, my value, my world. Other times I open myself up to a lengthy discussion/debate about whatever the topic may be.

    The point I am trying to make is, you can usually tell when it is “right” to continue and discuss something or just leave well enough alone because it is not actually going to be fruitful, respectful, these are the times I choose to keep my opinions to myself because I feel as though it is wasted effort to try and make anyone see why I choose whatever I do. (I at times admittedly can also be the person who I am sure that others would feel are wasting their time with).

    A few things that you said stuck with me, I always thought that agreeing to disagree meant that there had already been a discussion, a debate, a meeting of minds- rather than ignorance, avoidance etc. I am in complete agreeance with you on the point that the more we isolate our opinions, the more we choose not to delve into conversations that are taboo or heated the more we become families and people who live in a little bubble where everything we do and choose is Godly and free of alternatives. However, I don’t think that agreeing to disagree tends to lead toward this. Maybe that is just because I use those words when I have exhausted a topic with someone, when we have discussed it respectful and taken in and heard their opinion too.

    I think that it shows great character to be able to ” Agree to Disagree” rather than force your opinion onto someone. I know personally, I have also had and been the one who thought “I’m right, you’re wrong” scenario, it is usually when I discuss an opinion, decision, topic with someone that we disagree on and yet I can see that they are right but I am also right that will have me “agreeing to disagree”. I don’t use the whole “too hard basket” let’s agree to disagree often, if ever. Probably because I steer clear of a lot of internet opinions where “invisible” people are just out to bully and don’t really want to respect anyone’s opinions or discuss anything.

    • I think you’re right Rachel and I almost changed the name of this post to “Let’s Just All Try To Get Along” but then didn’t…maybe I should have. I have seen an increase in the number of online conversations saying that “everyone has a right to their opinion” which at the same time actually imply that if your opinion about said topic differs, you indeed don’t have a right to express it. Makes me sad; I may not agree with you but if you have an intelligent and considered view then we still might learn something from one another even if we don’t change out minds. I think you’re absolutely right that it doesn’t take long to determine if you’re talking with a rational person or not though…and unfortunately when you’re online dealing with an irrational person it can get nasty, fast :(

  7. I’m all about talking it out and then, depending on what we’re talking about, agreeing to disagree if we have to. There are certain topics that get me hot under the collar though and it takes all of my willpower to not blast the other person – When it’s online, I am SO thankful for the block button! Once the name calling and pettiness begins, the whole point of the conversation is lost x
    Good Golly Miss Holly! recently posted..Shit no one told you about being pregnant.My Profile

    • so true, I often wonder what goes through someone’s head when they start on the name calling. Do they think “Oh, this is how I’ll really change their minds – they’ll simply have to agree with me once I call them a total xyz”. I mean, seriously?!

  8. While I agree that some things are more than just opinions, they are strongly held beliefs about right and wrong and you can’t just flippantly say “ok, sure, whatever, you feed your baby coke and I’ll just sit back and smile politely”. But there are other things that we may believe in strongly, but we have no right to push those beliefs onto others. They too have their strongly held beliefs. As long as no one is getting hurt, we cannot judge, and to do so would be arrogant.
    I do what is best for my family, because I can’t be the police of everyone else. I love to read opinions from others and it helps to either solidify my beliefs or to give me an insight into a better way to do things. Or sometimes reading other extreme opinions makes me very afraid for the future.
    So, I guess it depends on the thing you’re disagreeing on. Some things I can agree to disagree, but it shouldn’t be a rule to live by when it comes to some of the big big stuff.
    Toushka Lee recently posted..Whiter Shade of PaleMy Profile

    • But Toushka, I wantto be the police of everyone! LOL!
      The challenge of course is that we may all disagree about where we can tell another person that they are wrong, the point at which we can feel we do have the ‘right’ to speak up because our view is right and their, equally strongly held belief, is wrong. I guess the hope is that when we do hold a belief strongly we can find ways of talking about it which are humble and generous – at the same time I know that there are some topics, that no matter how carefully are discussed, people will still hear what they want to hear. That makes me sad too :(

  9. I will put my hand up as being one of those people who keeps my thoughts to myself! I hate it when other people shove their opinion down my throat so I err WAY on the side of caution when it comes to expressing my own!

    It’s probably why I really admire people who will just put their opinion out there and open themselves up to others coming down hard on them!

    I dream of a society where we can all have respectful discussions about topics where there are varying views and no one feels the need to shout another person down for having a different opinion. I learn SO much from these kind of discussions but sadly they are few and far between.
    Kelly Exeter recently posted..Lifehacker Tip #6 – Do it the night beforeMy Profile

    • I dream of a society where we can all have respectful discussions about topics where there are varying views and no one feels the need to shout another person down for having a different opinion. I learn SO much from these kind of discussions but sadly they are few and far between.

      YES Kelly!! Me too. x

  10. I’m a fan of letting things go and respecting another person’s decisions, but it’s something I struggle to do especially if it really conflicts with a deep personal value or experience of my own. If it’s about something stupid, I usually just let it go because you can’t really go around and fight everyone whose opinions differ from your own. If you have that kind of energy, maybe you need to find a hobby! If I’m ‘discussing’ something with another person that I have personal experience in and they don’t, I find it really hard to let it go and also to respect that person.

    I’m actually trying to deal with something similar to that point at the moment. I can talk about it because no one knows this person and she will never read this. Basically I have a good friend who has just fallen pregnant. It is an “unplanned” pregnancy which basically means for her that she was just careless. While this person is almost 27 years old, she is no where near that in maturity years. Still much of a child herself, she has no job, no education, no aspirations… Her relationships have always been disasters. She lives with her parents who take 100% care of her. And she’s ok with that, as long as she doesn’t have to work hard at anything. Her whole life and the lives of those close to her revolve completely around her.

    Basically her whole life conflicts with deep personal values I hold. There is no reason she can’t go out and work just like every body else. She just doesn’t want to so she goes and finds men who will give her that lifestyle. Inevitably they always get sick and tired and run away, and she just moves on to the next.

    Now this person is about to have a baby and will not entertain the idea of giving it up. I know she hasn’t got a clue what she is in for and IT SCARES ME. We’ve been very close friends for 13 years, I know the kind of person she is and there isn’t a single fibre in my body that isn’t scared for this child. How can someone who can’t even take care of herself have a child!? This is the issue I’m faced with. Nothing I have ever said nor any personal experience she’s even been through has ever been able to ‘wake’ her up. It makes me sick thinking about it and all I want to do is turn my back on her. I can’t sit by and watch her destroy not just her own life but an innocent child’s as well. I just can’t. I’m at a point where I just want her out of my life and I’m more than prepared to say that to her. I just haven’t yet because I can’t stop thinking about that poor little baby…

    It’s things like this I can’t let go and that frustrate me when they’re not just my opinions, it’s the right thing to do. She needs to grow up and start taking care of herself so when the baby comes in 3 months, she can look after it too. But I know she won’t change. She never has. I don’t even believe she is capable of it to be honest. It makes me sick.

    There’s always that little voice in my head telling me to calm down and that it’s not my problem. And it isn’t my problem. I didn’t cause this, why should I take any responsibility? It’s just one of those things, you know. If someone wants to destroy their own life, fine. I will try my best to talk you out of it but at the end of the day, if you’re that determined nothing I say or do is going to stop you. But when you bring another life into the situation, an innocent life that depends on you for survival and love, it just can’t be about you anymore.

    Yikes… sorry about my essay =S

    • Oh Mel, that is a really hard one. Knowing when and how to speak up can be so hard, but it can also be invaluable – only you will know if the person is someone who could hear what you had to say and know it was coming from a place of friendship. I’ll be praying for you xx

  11. For me, whether I disagree or not is going to depend on how much energy I have to invest in the situation. Some things just aren’t worth arguing over and having my voice heard is not always the most important part of a situation. So yes, sometimes I do walk away (or click away) instead of respectfully disagreeing, because it’s easier than then standing to defend my own position (and in blogging, it usually always comes back to attack and defend, sadly).

    There are some people I do feel I can disagree with online and off, however, and have them respect my opinion, while not turning it into a “thing”. They’re the ones I will disagree with – and usually, the conversation that comes out of that is a worthwhile conversation.

    Some things for me are not about live and let live – and yet, others are – and I think we all draw the line in different places.
    Veronica recently posted..12 week update and asking adviceMy Profile

  12. I agree with you, Louisa. How bland the world would be if we all were afraid to give our opinion out of fear of disagreeing with someone. So long as it’s expressed in a tolerant, respectful and gentle way, I’m all for saying what you think.

    BUT…I struggle to do this on my blog. Especially when it comes to things like parenting. Yes, I worry about offending people, but more that I’ll voice an opinion that hasn’t been well thought through or researched, and risk being insensitive to individuals who may not have the same experience as me. So I find it much easier to have an opinion in the context of an offline conversation or relationship than online, when I’m not sure how people will take me.

    I do think you need to be careful on the net, not assuming your experience is everyone else’s (opinions based on “This is how it was for me” are a tad dangerous, as not everyone may have lived through what you have, for example insisting that all women should breastfeed without understanding how hard it is for some women). But having no opinion makes for a boring blog! It’s about wisdom, I guess. Knowing when to stick your neck out there, and knowing when to pull it in (and being humble in the times when you do get it wrong).

    But great post. HAs inspired me to be a bit more gutsy when it comes to saying what I really think on my blog :)
    Soph Russell recently posted..Five toys all parents need in their aresnal.My Profile

    • So many good points Soph! I know that I’ve been insensitive in the things I’ve said before – not intentionally or callously but just in speaking about my own experience have pained others (eg talking about having another baby and readers struggling with fertility.) It’s made me more aware which is good, and I try to keep talking about thins but hopefully in a way that doesn’t cause unnecessary pain to another person. The whole ” this is how it was for me THEREFORE it is how it is/should be for you” drives me nuts!! I hope there’s a way to speak about your own journey without imposing it on another…that’s the goal anyway!

  13. I would say that life is too short to have an opinion about everything and then shove that opinion down everyone’s throats. There are things I have opinions on, but I rarely discuss them, because I don’t see the point. Even if I do, I don’t attempt to change anyone else’s opinion.

    We are all entitled to think how we think, educate ourselves about things that are important to us and do what is right for us.

    However, I would qualify that by saying that I expect everyone’s basic human rights to be respected and preserved, especially children, who cannot look out for themselves.
    Dorothy @ Singular Insanity recently posted..Do you have a funny accent?My Profile

  14. I choose my battles. I blogged about someone last week who I admired. Another friend disagreed, rang me and yelled at me. I took the post down so she has no more ammunition. She then ended the friendship. I am annoyed about the censure and am thinking about putting the post back up. But the couldn’t be bothered giving it the energy.
    Penny recently posted..The Teapot Spot #9My Profile

  15. I tend to agree to disagree. I’ve been called a “peacemaker” or “conflict averse”. It doesn’t mean I don’t have my own views but I will only enter discussion if I think it will be fair, respectful and possible productive, even if we have different views. As some have already said, the faceless nature of the Internet allows so many bullies to come out and I’ve seen it in action. I don’t want to open a forum for such abuse and negativity towards myself or anyone else. It serves no purpose, in my opinion, and the real issue gets lost amidst mudslinging. People just end up hurt. Nothing useful is learnt.
    Veronica @ Mixed Gems recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Bathed in SunshineMy Profile

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