Good evening Dear Reader,
I apologize in advance, for there are some heavy topics on my mind this evening.
We live in a time of “if you’re not with me, you’re against me”. The “cancel culture” which is so interesting to think about. I am a person who loves a healthy and respectful debate because it helps broaden my perspective on things. As well, I grew up with the phrase “agree to disagree” which has seem to have been pushed under the rug within the last 10 years or so.
Yet these days there seems to be a connection with agreeing with someone in order to accept them and I don’t think that’s an accurate connection to make.
I for one, don’t mind if other people disagree with my truth. Their disagreeing with my truth, struggle, and life choices at no point invalidates me. I am still me. My life experiences have led up to the person I am now and that person is valid. Someone outside of myself who disagrees with that, doesn’t change my truth or my being.
That being said, being able to treat me with love, compassion, and kindness despite our differences, despite our conflicting truths is far more important than trying to convert the person to my set of beliefs, morals or my personal truth.
As a small example, let’s take religion. I used to be a devote Christian years ago. I have a family member who (when discussions on religious differences come up) asserts that their Christian beliefs are THE truth. The ultimate, undeniable truth and I disagree with that. I respect that person. I respect their beliefs. I love and appreciate them and support them at a distance while maintaining my own boundaries. At the same time, my disbelief in their “the truth” does not invalidate them. It does not disrespect them. It does not change what “the truth” is for them. This goes both ways.
There are a lot of sensitive subjects in society right now that were not as talked about 5, 10, and 20 years ago.
The problem is there is a very fine line between personal freedom and respect but the definition of respect has changed a lot in recent years. Consider the following:
A person who believes that depression isn’t real but still comforts their depressed spouse.
A person who believes in two genders yet still supports those who don’t adhere to that.
A person who believes in generalizations about a particular race yet still treats people outside of their own race with dignity and kindness.
Are these people terrible, awful people?
I don’t think so. Yet, our culture has dictated that these types of people should have their lives ruined and demonized. Now, to be fair, yes there are mean-spirited people out there. There are bigots, and sexists, and racists and people who are so tied up in their own way of thinking, they lose compassion for others. That is a very real reality. However, that is not the case for every person and disagreeing with someone (even on things close to your heart and existence) shouldn’t make someone your enemy.
Now, some might say that disagreeing is where the actual harm is done as thoughts lead to actions and so on and so forth.
But I challenge that. We have many thoughts, generalizations, beliefs, etc. but that doesn’t mean that we all act on those all the time.
The example I give is the topic of abortion. Just because I would not personally get one (and of course this is easy to say because I’m not in the position) that doesn’t mean I think that everyone woman on Earth should also not get them. Now, that’s not to say that I think that falls on the “right or wrong” scale. Just an example.
Or, for instance, I don’t think institutionalized Christianity is correct on a fundamental level. That doesn’t mean I will go and try to convert every Christian I meet to my way of thinking. That also doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t support my Christian friends and family in their religious adventures, as long as it didn’t impose on me personally. For example, during family prayer, I would remain silent and bow my head, but I would no longer sign the cross after. I am paying respect to their tradition while maintaining a healthy boundary.
We each live in our own little universe but the thing is: we have to share this Earth and this space with 7 billion other little universes. Interacting with other people is always difficult because:
- You’ll never express yourself to the person 100% the way you want to 100% of the time. Thoughts to not beam into another person’s brain. They go through 2 filters: the medium of communication (written or verbal) and the filter of perception within the mind of the other person. Depending on the person’s mind state, beliefs, traumas, etc. your message may not be received in the way you intended.
- Not everyone will see things your way all of the time. Even if your truth is THE truth for you, that doesn’t mean that it’s THE truth for everyone. Now it may be a human thing, or perhaps just an American thing but there is this desire to make other people outside of yourself see the same truth as you. There is a negative feeling associated when people don’t see it. Like if you shared your favorite snack with someone and they actually think it’s disgusting. We feel sad or even upset or we might urge the person to try it multiple times, etc.
In any case, people are different and with those differences come uniqueness, pain, debate, solidarity, disagreements, and the like. That’s something that we have to accept as individuals.
Now, to be clear, if the case was that one person believed I should die and wished to do bodily harm to me, that is an obvious problem because that then infringes on my immediate life and jeopardizes my life force.
However, it becomes less obvious in more specific and less physical examples. I have suffered from depression for quite some time now. If someone tells me, they don’t believe depression exists is that doing harm to me? Even if they treated me with compassion during my depressive episodes? Do I need to have their acceptance?
I think not. People are free to have different thoughts and beliefs than me.
I think actions are more important than the thoughts and although intentions do matter, sometimes the physical actions outweigh the metaphysical thoughts behind it.
The more personal an issue is to the person, the more they are willing to fight and defend that issue. Things like race, gender, and sexuality are so personal to a person because they are things that lie outside our control. Those are things that people are willing to put their blood, sweat and tears into defending.
There’s nothing wrong with that in any way.
At the same time, even with these sensitive topics, where do we draw the line between acceptance and agreement? Is there a line to be drawn at all? Does disagreement inherently mean hatred and bigotry?
These are the questions on my mind the more I look around me. The more I observe, the more questions I have.
What do you think? If you care to answer, that is.
I hope these topics brought you no harm, dear reader, as they were asked with genuine curiosity and without malice.
Much love and warm regards,