Friday, April 5, 2013

How to Disagree

Lurking around the internet you often see some vile things.  People take the masks off and their true nature comes out.  People suddenly lose their kindness and civility, it seems.  What triggered this was seeing a nasty comment left on an atheist blog left by a so called Christian.  It was insulting, rude and deplorable, to say the least.  Name calling, death threats, and outlandish accusations are never appropriate or necessary.  Honestly, it says much more about the person writing it than the person it is written about.  Surely, we all say unkind things but it seems the internet makes that easier.  Problem is rules don't change or shouldn't change just because you are hiding behind a screen.  Believe in God or not you should want to have integrity, which means acting the same regardless of who is watching, or in this case, reading.  If you have to hide behind anonymous comments, there is a problem.  Thus, this brings me to what I consider appropriate and inappropriate ways to disagree.

*Listening to a person.  That means really listening, not just pretending.  Think about the points they are making and how you could possibly learn something from them.
*Go in with an open mind.  Realize that you possibly be wrong or misguided in some regard.  After all, none of us know everything.
*Be respectful.  Everyone likes to be treated like their ideas matter and they are worth your time.
*Educate yourself on various points of view.  At least know what you are talking about.  No one likes to argue against a strawman!

*Going in with the idea that you are going to change the other person.  This impedes true listening and understanding.  You can't have an open mind if you are always right.
*Name calling/insults.  It just makes you look like you don't have any real points so you must attack the other person.
*Making everything personal.  Just because you disagree with someone does not make them terrible.  Yes, you feel strongly about a lot of subjects but so doesn't the other person!
*Arrogance/superiority.  This goes along with changing the other person.  You are not the sole arbiter of truth on the planet, so don't act like it!

A lot of this boils down to treating people how you would want to be treated.  And frankly, it makes you arguments look weak when you can't present them in logical, calm, respectful way.  Emotions can take a good discussion into a bad place, sometimes.  Some empathy would go a long way.  No one likes being attacked or treated badly.

I heard a good piece of advice, "love your neighbor as yourself..."

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