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Agreeing to disagree [Sep. 25th, 2004|11:21 am]
Nite Mirror
I keep stumbling across something that I finally feel moved to write about. When I was little and would have an occasional disagreement with my Grandfather after a point Gramp would say, "Ok, neither of us will change the other's mind. So let's agree to disagree and move on to something else." Then he'd change the conversation and it was as if we weren't arguing a moment before.

In this age of political correctness, a lot of people seem to have gotten the idea that if someone has a vastly different view than you on any topic that excludes them from being your friend.

On the radio I heard someone pointing out that he and a friend were to give a political speech to a high school. He was giving the republican side and a friend of his the democratic.

Since they were friends they car pooled to the school, and were joking and, ... well, just being friends on the way into that school. They gave their respective presentations and then tried to have a question and answer session with the kids afterward. The kids were silent, not even whispering among themselves. Other then one question by a teacher to try to get the ball rolling, there was silence in the auditorium.

He and his friend thought they botched the presentation. It wasn't until the next day and he called the school and was told that it was his obvious friendship with the democrat that was confusing the kids. They didn't know how to take two people who had radically different views, expressed them openly against each other during the presentation, and yet were seen coming and leaving together as friends.

I think this "you can't be my friend if you have different views" type thinking is a result of the political correctness of our time. There is too much stress on cooperation and working together as a team so that it can be "win-win" all the time. People are no longer taught how to deal with competition when it is forced into their lives. They don't know how to play the game when it becomes a "win-lose" deal.

Sometimes there is no reconciling viewpoints. "Agreeing to disagree" is the only way to deal with irreconcilable viewpoints, and a lot of people today refuse to agree to disagree. That is the biggest "lose-lose" situation of our time.

[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2004-09-25 11:18 am (UTC)
I agree with much of what you say, although I wouldn't call that political correctness (which is a term that I think gets bandied about far too much, anyway.)
Society has, for many years, focused on the polarization of viewpoints...nowhere is this more evident that in political issues. I think this has been heartily encouraged by the political parties themselves, because it is in their favor (to their minds) to have a polarized society. They want guaranteed votes simply by taking various stances. In the media, polarization enhances conflict and conflict gets attention. There are other ways to have conflict, but this is a sure and easy one and therefore has become a crutch for a great many people.

On the other hand, there are some things I can't maintain a friendship with someone if they believe. I can be courteous to the person. I can associate with them casually. But, beyond that, it would simply feel unethical to associate with them, lest anyone get the impression that I agree with their stance. (Part of the problem is that silence is commonly interpreted as assent, and not without reason.) Those issues are limited, but there are a few.

Finally, life is full of stress. If those stances on which they disagree cause either individual any particular stress, that is naturally going to have an impact on the relationship...while all friendships may have stress from time to time, setting oneself up for continual stress seems inadvisable if one can avoid it.
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[User Picture]From: nitemirror
2004-10-01 11:40 pm (UTC)
I think we are talking semantics and degrees of subtleties here and don't have an disagreements at all. :-)

The semantics here come in with "political correctness." I was going by it simply meaning the desire to avoid offending anyone at all costs.

I just wanted to show that at least that one group of young people couldn't understand how two people with polar opposite views could be friends, and that example was fresh in my mind from hearing it ... I believe the night before, ... within a few days before writing this at any rate.

As for there being some differences that preclude friendship, again I think we agree. Friendship is usually based on having one or more things in common. It changes over time strengthening as more complementary interests are found. Granted you can't base a friendship on ... disinterests (If I can use that word in this way), and certain disinterests may strain a relationship until those involved learn to avoid that issue with each other, or barring avoidance I guess the strain (depending on how deeply the issues are held) might be great enough to end a friendship.

If I missed a point, stated the obvious, or said something off the wall, I'll plead that I'm writing this late at night and my concentration is starting to fade as I need sleep. I prob. should wait till a different time to reply. I just thought I've waited long enough now..
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2004-10-02 06:32 am (UTC)
*nod* Actually, though, the desire not to offend anyone at any cost would result more in people simply keeping silent about what they actually think when confronted with the otherwise.

I think it's not political correctness, but polarization that is the problem. (It's semantics, but it's semantics with a point. :)

*nod* I do understand what you are getting at, and we generally agree. :) Thanks for the reply, I don't mind waiting at all. :)
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