Agreeing to Disagree: A Lost Art Part I

Around this time of the year, more friends and families are getting together to celebrate the holiday season, and with it of course, bring a myriad of different viewpoints! Most families, (unless everyone is of one hive mind…) have members with all different perspectives, experiences, and yes, opinions! Inevitably, not all opinions are let’s just say….compatible with each other! You know the rest of the story: The drama! The fighting! The heated “discussions” of the finer points on why you’re completely, totally and undeniably “wrong!” This year, and probably last year as well, our country’s political polarization didn’t help at all 😉 Nowadays, it’s Left vs. Right, white vs. black, gay vs. straight, women vs. men, believer vs. non-believer, etc…etc… This wedge in society, not helped at all by very highly contentious issues being brought out in a frank manner for the first time with Trump saying what he feels as well and the Leftist backlash, can get people shall I say too involved, and absorbed in them! This divide within our nation festers, but must go somewhere, and too often, at the family dinner table!

Now, the opponent is not only factually wrong, but morally wrong! People have literally unfriended friends off social media, alienated family, even shunned and ostracized their close friends over political disagreements cast as incompatible moral faults! And it seems to have only gotten worse! Thing is, most of this unfortunately seems to be mostly one sided… Think for a moment: When was the last time a conservative person shunned you, ostracized you, even shouted in your face if you held a moderately liberal position? Did they try to engage, maybe even vigorously debate with you, or actually get angry with you as a person, not just your ideas?!

However now, think again to many liberals… How many have you seen, experienced personally, and now in the news, screaming at, even threatening and crossing the line to violence over an opposing viewpoint! Just look at the attacks on Carlson’s family and his daughter! Look around at the Antifa riots, all the conservatives afraid to be open about their opinions due to shunning, ostracism, violence, fear of getting fired or held back in a job, losing friends and family over politics etc… etc… Now honestly ask yourself, if liberal, have you felt that way? Really??? Have you felt fear of losing your job, your friends and family, even fearing for your physical safety over holding a liberal view? Because if you are, you’re the exception in a society where every public school, college, employer, official institutions, the mainstream media, TV shows, movies, etc… openly espouse liberal views! I have personally known and spoken with many conservatives in real life, and online, and about all of them felt like they were “taboo” in society even if brave enough to be openly conservative.

What could possibly make people feel such uncontrolled vitriol, riots, threats, violence, vile language and such is justified towards those one disagrees with??? I think we know the answer: Seeing your opponent as in essence an “opponent”, someone who is your literal enemy, who must be “defeated”! Seeing a person as being immoral for having an opinion, not just illogical or uninformed. Trouble is, the Left seems to be the majority on this one! Writing people off their list for having Conservative view points. Labeling their own family or (former) friends as being “racist” “sexist” “homophobic”, “trans-phobic” etc… etc… rather than listening to their actual arguments, not letting one’s children get to know their own relatives because they have different viewpoints than you want to raise your children to have! Even, and I’m not kidding, making sweatshirts with crude slogans, just to make a more derisive atmosphere during the holidays!

Thing is, when did it get this bad? When did we decide it’s okay to demonize, and shun the people closest to you, who you should cherish, over a disagreement? There used to be a thing called “agreeing to disagree”! When did everything become a moral not just political issue and it’s “your side or the bad side…”??? Just because Aunt Susie doesn’t want more Syrian refugees coming into the country doesn’t mean she hates “brown people” and Muslims! Just because Grandma prefers young women remain virgins until marriage and doesn’t believe in divorce doesn’t mean she has “internalized misogyny” or that she’s a judgmental bigot who will shun you from the family dinner if you didn’t/did either of those things respectively! Just because Uncle Joe is in the NRA doesn’t mean he’s for unregulated use/sales of guns to unqualified people who can’t handle them properly, nor is he a “baby killer” who only cares about the sale of guns, and not their potential to take lives!

I will add one last thing for my fellow conservatives: Same goes for you too! Despite much of the loony left, do consider why some of your Liberal family members and friends hold the opinions they do! Your niece who’s in college and went to public schools k-12 honestly may not have been exposed to your viewpoint, except as the narrow minded wrong one! Your sister may feel that refugees genuinely aren’t bringing danger in with them and being altruistic in her own life, even to a fault, just has that opinion as an extension of her goodwill. Maybe your friend has seen true racism, and now is extra-sensitive to it, growing up in an environment of real bigotry. Maybe your friend grew up in a family who shunned him for being gay, so now feels it is his mission to be a staunch LGBT advocate, even to extremes sometimes! Point is, while I don’t give their ideologies a free pass, it helps to understand where a person could be coming from when they hold a view you don’t understand why they hold. Yes, folks: Not all Liberals are complete militant loonies who hold views just to virtue signal ( although plenty as we know, do!). Some do have heartfelt reasons for their positions, and the best way to persuade them to see our side, and understand us, is to model that courtesy in return. Sincerity deserves sincerity in return, the will to listen to their side too. Maybe if some realize we’re willing to listen to them, they may be willing to listen to us. The best way to get consideration is to model it, and even if you don’t get through, others around you will know who had more elegance, and class I know many, probably more liberals than conservatives from where I’m from, and many of them are my friends and loved family! The difference between them and the loonies we see on the news and in protests, is they can agree to disagree and consider my point of view without demonizing me, and I them 🙂

Does agreeing to disagree mean you can’t stand by your own convictions? No! Certainly not! I certainly will stand by mine, and defend them! However, “defending your convictions” does not include virulent ad-hominem attacks, overt rudeness, provocations to start a heated “debate”, creating awkwardness in mixed company and bringing up derisive topics intentionally when you know that it will upset people! Sometimes, it is best to save the debates for another time… The family holiday or friend’s party is NOT always the best time to be controversial! The holidays are about unity, not division! Peace, not war! Let’s have that Christmas (Oops! Is that too derisive 😉 ) Umm… “Holiday” truce of goodwill, and a restrained tongue! Agree to disagree… Until the holidays are over 😉

Image result for divided america political cartoon

(I love science, so I found this picture hilarious!!!)


  1. I agree. I think it has a lot to do with the mainstream/corporate media feeding different realities to people. Unfortunately, many don’t check for nuances is non-biased (or even opposing) coverage. It has come to a point of people not being able to agree on basic reality.

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  2. Hi Lady! While I do agree with some of the things you say; I want to say some things. I agree that we should “let bygones be bygones” rather than sink to such level viciousness. However, some people don’t believe in compromise. I mean you know left SJWs refuse to do that because to do so is to compromise with the “oppressor” (Given their marxist paradigm). A lot of them will not stop until they have complete and utter control. Unfortunately, the compromise approach doesn’t always work.

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  3. “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” — Richard Bach, “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah”

    Ultimately, we must decide which is more important: maintaining our emotional health and happiness, or maintaining toxic relationships for the sake of appearances.

    On a side note: Etsy shut down the young woman’s activist clothing shop. And her Instagram account has disappeared as well.

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    • We managed to bring up four children , three boys and a girl , and it was not easy . We were short of most things but there was a mutual acceptance of each other in spite of friction and at times fisty cuffs. The two middle boys as young teenagers fought like tigers and when I tried to separate them we all collapsed on the kitchen floor and a scream from my wife brought the action to a close. Those two boys now run :-)a business together although they are married and living in separate houses.
      I’m not sure what you mean by ‘true family ‘ I’m sure you have heard of the children who love their foster- parents much more than their blood parents . I would define true family as those who care in the long term through the ups and downs of life.
      Long before clothing had various comments on it we had it on tattoos because people want to show others what they think. It takes us back to freedom of speech should we be free to blazon our ideas on others ? and if so how far should the free expression of what might offend be condoned.

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      • Yes, that’s what I meant. Your true family consists of people who take an active interest in your life, and the example you provided (foster parents) presents a perfect illustration of the sentiments expressed within the quote.

        On freedom of speech, I defend everyone’s right to say or publish whatever they like regardless of whether or not I agree with their opinions. I do not consider being offended a valid reason to censor speech, because what we find offensive is wholly subjective to the recipient of the message.

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  4. Very, very well said!! Thank you for having the courage and intelligence to put these thoughts in writing!! Too often I feel that as a conservative woman I cannot speak my mind for fear of being labeled negatively. A close friend and I have agreed to disagree but ever since I have felt a strain where there didn’t used to be one. And she did choose to ruin my 1 year of sobriety celebration to vehemently argue her view point. Smh!!!

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  5. Excellent! Very well put, I am not as detailed as you are. Raising children with disabilities has taught me to keep it very simple and honest. I have gay son who has never ever known the warmth of a woman but when his siblings told him, I voted Trump. Well He has not spoken to me since. Actually none of my 8 children speak to me. I live alone and I like it for it is the first time in my 55 years of living, I truly get to take care of myself. We have to educate and wake up this sleeping giant. We owe it to the universe cause that is true humanity. America First! Then we can share true democracy.

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  6. Excellent post! You bring up some important points about disagreement. After all, unless your family intends to hold a press conference after Thanksgiving dinner to announce their consensus on an issue it doesn’t really matter much what Uncle Joe and cousin Matilda think about the issues of the day.

    I fear that disagreement is a lost art. Of course people still disagree but they seem to have lost the art of argument about those disagreements. The word “argument” today brings to mind bickering, animus and shouting matches. However an “argument” in the pure sense of the word is someone outlining their reasoning towards a particular conclusion and the purpose of an argument is to persuade. We all need to ask ourselves whether anyone has ever persuaded us about something by shouting insults at us. Even or perhaps especially if we don’t shout back, it is likely that we will associate the anger we feel at being shouted at with the other person’s point of view and thereby stiffen our resolve. In addition, we might import that anger into future discussions of the issue with other people. Acrimony and insults build walls instead of bridges.

    Persuasion is difficult. Most people already have made up their minds about the major issues of the day and generally aren’t likely to change their opinions. In order to change someone’s mind about something you first need to understand why they formed their conclusion in the first place. It’s a rare person who will approach an issue with an open mind and say “I think X because of these facts and reasons. If you can demonstrate to me that these facts are incorrect or that there is a flaw in the logic, I am willing to re-examine my position on the matter.” More often, people form conclusions based on emotions and you can’t debate emotions any more than you can formulate logical arguments to convince someone who likes one flavor of ice cream to prefer another.

    Group identification is one common reason why people espouse a particular political opinion. Because the group holds that opinion and they define themselves with that group, they will express the opinion as a way of showing that they are one of the group. Rather than a reasoned conclusion based on facts and logic, the opinion is a shibboleth and the appeal is the innate human desire to belong to a group. Accordingly, when you challenge such a belief, the person is likely to perceive it as an attack and they will defend themselves with commensurate emotion. One tip off is when a person expresses strong feelings about an issue but has no grasp of the basic facts. For example, someone might demand that we change the laws regarding X but not have even a general understanding of what the current laws regarding X are today. Where they have formed their opinion without examining the facts, it’s likely that they are reflecting what they have heard and haven’t questioned it because that’s what their group thinks. The position is a shibboleth and their real position is that they identify with the group.

    If you can’t persuade someone of your position, the next best thing that you can do is not offend them. That leaves open the possibility that they might be open to change their mind in the future or, at least, not fuel the passion with which they oppose your point of view. On the other hand, if someone is a real dunderhead, go ahead and tell them so good and loud. It can be cathartic.

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  7. Oooo… you touched on one of my pet peeves! People who say “let’s agree to disagree!” LOL

    There’s a reason for that.

    In my experience, that phrase is almost exclusively used by social and political leftists, but not to keep the peace, but to either shut down debate on something that *should* be debated, or to make themselves appear to be taking the high road, while wrapping themselves with a cloak of moral superiority. Basically, it gets used judgmentally. It is extremely rare for me to see a conservative use the term (in fact, I can’t think of any time at all, but it’s possible I just don’t remember, because it happens so rarely).

    There is a time and place for “agree to disagree.” At family gatherings is a good example! And yeah, I too find it is mostly leftists that succumb to moral outrage if anyone disagrees with them, though I certainly see it on the right, too. I’ve had leftists accuse of being a far right wingnut about probably triple the rate of accusations that I am a leftist by people on the right. Interestingly, the most recent person to unfriend me on Facebook was a conservative Christian, like myself, with whom I agree on many things, and have many things in common. We only know each other online, though, so it’s not like being blocked by a family member. Interestingly, this recent unfriending was because of Christmas! In a nutshell…

    Him: I don’t celebrate Christmas. Christians shouldn’t celebrate Christmas because it is a pagan holiday.

    Me: that is a modern myth that has been thoroughly debunked through scholarly research (provides several links)

    Him: Pagans celebrated things around that time, Christians didn’t; Christmas is just a Catholic plot.

    Me: (provides links showing Christians celebrated some form of Christmas more than 1800 years ago; provides links to show how the date of Dec. 25 was reached, etc.)

    Him: Christmas isn’t in the Bible, therefore Jesus doesn’t want us to celebrate Christmas.

    Me: …
    Me: (cites the Pharisees and the problem of legalism)

    Him: (mild insult, then unfriends me before I see it and respond)

    I guess you could call that a version of “agree to disagree.” LOL

    There are some things where “agree to disagree” is appropriate. Like whether pineapple belongs on pizza. 😉 Other things, there may be a time and place for the discussion, but the stakes are too high for “agree to disagree.” Such as abortion. And yet, I will see people freak out over pineapple on pizza in threads hundreds of comments long, but I’ve had debates on substantive topics that affect all of us, culturally, socially, politically or morally, shut down almost instantly, with the comment “let’s agree to disagree.” People use it to avoid having to think about or defend their own position – and typically on things they don’t have anything but emotionalism as a defense to begin with.

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    • You do bring up a great point! It can be abused and be the coward’s way out too! I have usually seen it more in the context of when you reach a stalemate. You won’t budge, nor will the other guy… Any further debate would be ad-nauseum and circling back to points that will only get disagreed on… A debate needs more than just two people who will never ever concede to each other’s points or consider them at all, as that is then reduced to an exercise in wasted breath, not an intellectual exercise. That said, you’re right it can be said to back out of being challenged further though too…

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    • To me an unbeliever the decision to celebrate or not celebrate Christmas seems a small matter , but I understand that some Christian groups are hypersensitive for fear of not following the Bible exactly . Mind you can any one claim to follow it exactly ? I think the main trouble lies in the commercialisation , some have in their minds that something holy must not be commercialized. In the UK the Church of England is the national church and Christmas trees along with candle lit carols are standard practice.

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      • Well, I should hope no one “follows the Bible exactly.” It’s not that kind of book. It needs to be taken in context, and understood within the time period, and to differentiate between descriptive and prescriptive passages. People have a tendency to project modern culture onto the past, and the Bible is no exception.

        And yes, commercialization is a big part of the problem, and not limited to Christmas. Christmas was banned for a while, because people were using it as an excuse for drunken debauchery. Halloween had become pretty wild, and I believe it was the Boy Scouts that worked for many years to turn it into a safe, fun event for children. Thanksgiving. Easter. Father’s and Mother’s Day. People seem quite willing to forget the reason for a holiday be persuaded into materialistic celebrations.

        There’s nothing wrong with the material part of celebrating. It’s when the material part becomes the focus instead of the reason for the celebration that is becomes a problem. If a person is more concerned about decorating the house and spending too much money on gifts, food, etc., and forgetting why they’re doing all that in the first place, from a Christian perspective, those things have become idols. They are worshiping the created, instead of the creator.

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      • You are right we do not live in Biblical times our modern age is totally different , we are rich beyond the wildest dreams in the west and our very lives are led in a commercialised atmosphere. Materialism is the modern disease and we have learned to believe we require all that technology has given us. To be fair some churches have moved into the modern age and accept women ministers and same sex marriage although this has caused internal friction , but there has been friction ever since the reformation split the Catholic church. Once men and women could read the Bible in their own language they could form their own opinions and the variation is enormous.

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      • Materialism has always been an issue; I do think it is easier to fall into materialism in an environment where even our poor are wealthier than beyond the wildest dreams of people even just a hundred years ago. I think, sometimes, poverty itself can create its own form of materialism. Sometimes, one is most obsessed with money and material goods when you don’t have much of either!

        It seems to me, though, that you are viewing the fact that some churches have “moved into the modern age” by accepting certain things as a good thing. If churches are so easily swayed by the changing times, though, what’s the point? But I think that is a debate for another time! 😀

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    • “Let’s agree to disagree.” is indeed a very problematic statement. I would like to invite you to peruse the section called “Compromise and Subjectivity: Special Pleading and Relativist Fallacy” in my post entitled “The Quotation Fallacy”. The said section critically analyses the flaws of such a statement and other similar statements (regardless of the actual contexts in which such statements may be used), and is available at

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  8. Cognitive bias seems to be stronger, not weaker as I would expect. Even with all the articles and awareness of it, people are more stubborn than ever. With IQs on the gentle rise you would think smart would mean less, but it’s more! I think the biggest problem is the majority of our discussion is to faceless strangers with keyboards, and that attitude with anonymity is carrying over to the dinner table. Passions before pleasantries has put humanity on hold while we hammer away for points.

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    • Good insight…Perhaps we are less courteous in real life being habituated to the sarcastic and rude atmosphere online… Also though, the left’s our way or the wrong way mentality plays into it also, and our increasingly partisan atmosphere…

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      • I wouldn’t agree that it is just the left. Maybe when talking politics it’s mostly true, but talk to the right about their core cause—religion, and it’s a different story. I think for the left, politics is the religion, for the right, politics is an extension of it. Except maybe in some cases where conservative atheists are an anomaly, like you.

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  9. We must confirm our views to ourselves not just because we like them or because they make us feel comfortable or because our favourite people hold them , but because we believe them. Some of our opinions are very strongly held , while others are more uncertain ; that is good because it means change in our mind is possible. There is a widely held opinion coming from religion that we must not judge lest we ourselves are judged. How we could get through life without judging escapes me completely , and if we expect not to be judged on our opinions and behaviour we are living in the clouds.
    The danger is not judgement but condemnation ; I’m 76 and when I look back on my life it is a catalogue of mistakes and stupidity . How I tried the patience and love of my long departed parents , how I went headlong into behaviour which I remember with a sense of shame , how my ego became so puffed I thought I knew it all , and yet I came through the mill of life.
    Those who helped me most were friends and family who judged but did not condemn , they believed I had some good in me and that I was capable of a useful life.
    An iceberg floats but four fifths of its bulk is under water and invisible ; people are just like that we see but a fragment of them , most is hidden.
    So the next time you want to shout at someone or disown them remember they are just struggling human beings trying to make sense of the world.

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    • Kersten, get out of my head. I’m a year older than you and it seems we may have lived a parallel life.
      I find myself recalling all the stupid things I did when I was younger, to the embarrassment of my friends and relatives I’m sure. I’d like to think I’ve learned from those experiences, but sometimes I find myself reverting to old behaviors and attitudes. When I do catch myself in those instances, is when I really learn. I treasure those moments the most. They tell me I’ve still much to learn as I continue through the “mill of life” and become more refined into whoever I will ultimately become.
      Your post, along with the Lady of Reason’s article, reminds me I have some rebuilding of relationships to do this season. While I have the opportunity to do so. I won’t be around forever and neither will those I have slighted.
      Thank you, Kersten, for your great and insightful post. Thank you, Lady of Reason, for providing this forum for folks like us.

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    • “judge not” is one of the most misused concepts of the Bible. In the Bible, we are repeatedly instructed to judge wisely and righteously, but to never judge hypocritically. Jesus frequently attacked hypocrisy. But, people like to cite the Bible without the necessary context needed to understand what was going on!

      Liked by 4 people

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