Thoughtful disagreement

I have witnessed countless arguments and debates on different social media platforms. Many times random strangers disagree on something and hurl insults at each other, call each other names, and block each other. I have also seen couples and friends fight over silly things. We all have different view points but the reason we have so far prospered as a species is we have always found a way to collaborate and work together for the general good.

Disagreement is part and parcel of being human. We can learn to disagree agreeably using the following principles.

  1. What is good for you may not be good for me. We should not assume that everybody wants what we want.
  2. Near is not better than far. Just because something is near does not mean it is better. It maybe better to wait for something that is far.
  3. Popularity vs competency. Someone popular is not necessarily the best person for the job. A popular politician doesn’t necessarily make a good leader.
  4. Competence in one field doesn’t infer competence in another field. A good doctor is not a good accountant.
  5. The crowd is not always correct. Just because most people believe in something doesn’t make it correct.
  6. The map is not the territory. We all have partial information on the subject we are arguing about. A video clip of an event doesn’t show the whole event so we cannot base our entire argument on it. A news story is not the complete picture of what happened.
  7. Being right doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Just because I am right doesn’t make you wrong. We can both be right or wrong about the same thing.
  8. I am not your enemy because I disagree with you. Disagreement doesn’t mean I hate you. I simply don’t agree with your point of view.
  9. We all want the same thing. There is something we both want. If we focus on finding agreement on something common there will be progress.
  10. The end does not justify the means. A positive outcome doesn’t make the process right.
  11. We see the world as we are. My view point is affected by my background, beliefs, profession, etc. So I can’t expect you to see my world as I see it because we are all different.
  12. Opinions are not facts. An opinion is not a fact. Let’s distinguish the two and there will be less disagreement.
  13. Beliefs are not truths. A belief is not a truth. We believe all sorts of things which are nowhere near the truth. Personal beliefs are not universal truths.
  14. We can agree to disagree. It’s OK to disagree. We can still be friends and works towards the common good.
  15. We can change positions. I have a right to change my mind. Just because I said something yesterday doesn’t mean I can’t say something else today.
  16. We can work together to make things better. Even when we we disagree on something we can still work together. Politicians need to learn this.
  17. An insult doesn’t win an argument. An insult only cements the other person’s view point. Insulting is not an effective strategy to win an argument. The person who insults demonstrates that he has run out of sensible arguments.
  18. Winning an argument doesn’t make you right. Just because you win an argument doesn’t make you right.
  19. The loudest voice is not the wisest. A loud voice is simply a loud voice.
  20. Easy is not better than difficult. An easy path may not be the best way forward. We may need to engage in difficult discussions sometimes.
  21. If I am good it doesn’t make other people bad. We can all be bad and good at the same time.

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