I had this great interaction with someone on twitter yesterday.
What we were discussing was another twitter user's campaign to convince other people that adult babies are okay. (I think that adult babies and anyone else for that matter don't require anyone else's okay but that's not the important part.)
The great thing was that we disagreed in a civil way. We were able to state our dissenting opinions, and not savage one another. How refreshing!
Lately, I've had some interactions that were not civil discourse. They've been painful for me. I also own that part of that incivility was my own doing.
It's really, really easy for disagreements to descend into outright argument. Which is a waste of time, because everyone is actually right. (Link to one of my most favorite zen stories. Some would say it's the best one I know. They're right, of course. ;-) )
But it's so great when it doesn't.
I listened to, and felt educated by the other guy's perspective, too. I learned something from it - which is that often discussions go off the rails and become arguments because of how sloppy language can be. It's so easy to misconstrue what someone else is saying, or be misunderstood by another.
Disagreement has been on my mind a lot lately. It's really okay to have a fundamental disagreement with someone about something. I've certainly had a few big ones going on. In some ways, those moments of disagreement are helping me to know myself even better.
In that same twitter-discussion I shared my love for the book/film Cloud Atlas (which the other guy now wants to read.) It's got me thinking.
Two big things have come out of this tumult, for me. These are things I've known for a while, but their practice has just spoken to me really loudly lately amidst the disagreements I've been having.
1) I'm for kindness, and positive action.
Shouting someone down for things they shouldn't do, ways they shouldn't think is a waste of energy. The energy you spend telling someone off, complaining, shaming, expressing outrage - it doesn't do anything. But doing something positive, and kind for someone else, that always does. There's a direct causal effect to helping someone else. It changes the paradigm from confrontation and opposition to collaboration.
2) Those I disagree with are one with the whole, too. It's not my place to change them.
There's this quote from Cloud Atlas I love. “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” I can (and do) live my life with a passionate devotion to the things I believe. There's room in that ocean for everyone else to do so, too. The truth is that the world is in a constant state of change. Tides come and go. We help make the ocean what it is with our one little drop. That's enough.
I'm grateful for civil discourse about differing opinions. I actually need it to know myself.