Posted in Thoughts on...Thursdays

Thoughts on…Thursday: Politely Disagreeing

I have never been one who liked confrontation unless it was absolutely necessary, unless it happened to be a disagreement with family.  I guess in some ways it’s true what some people say:  you hurt/disagree/fight with the ones you love the most because you know at the end of the day, they’ll love you anyway.  For me, especially with my husband, it’s that we are so honest with each other, almost to a fault.  We’re not the type of couple who lets things sit.  We’ll stay up until 5 in the morning if we have to, hashing out our thoughts and why we disagree, leaving nothing untouched so neither of us feel like we aren’t heard.  It actually works really well.

But when it comes to friends, acquaintances, and strangers?  Not so much.  Sometimes I wonder, when it comes to friends, if it’s just because I haven’t found one that I’m comfortable enough with to know that without a doubt, like my family, that they’d still love me even if I disagreed.  With acquaintances and strangers, it’s more that I don’t like the hassle and energy spent explaining my point of view.

So instead of making a big stink of anything, I either stay quiet or try to remain very Emily Post about it.  I say my peace, but never in an inflammatory way.  I don’t place blame, I don’t use profanity, I don’t tell someone how stupid or crazy or outright wrong the person I’m disagreeing with is.  I remain respectful.  I try very hard to keep this same behavior here on my blog, and purposefully don’t bring up controversial or heavy topics.  Oftentimes I just set up a discussion or tell a personal story rather than using someone or something else as a bad example to not follow.  If someone who reads a post of mine makes an inflammatory comment, I simply don’t take the bait and reply in as calm of a way as possible.

Well, for the most part.  If there’s something that really really really sets me off (and believe me, it takes a lot), then my stance on a topic becomes crystal clear.  Even then, though, swearing is minimal, if even present at all.  I’d like to think that this behavior gives me the moral high ground.  So maybe part of the reason I stay polite is for selfish reasons:  I want to look more mature and more in control than the one who is yelling and swearing and causing a big ruckus.

I wonder if maybe I’m selling myself short in some of these instances.  I believe in the saying that if you stay quiet on an issue, you are no better than those who are creating the issue in the first place.  Like if I see someone being beaten up in the street, and I don’t yell at them to stop, I am doing absolutely nothing to alleviate the problem.  Unfortunately, I don’t often practice what I preach.
Are there some issues that people are given an unsaid license to not be polite about?  Or should all issues be handled in a nonconfrontational way?  Or, just the opposite, should I speak up on all issues so that change can happen?  I suppose the answer to that depends on your own morals and ethics, but nonetheless, I’m curious on what you all think.

I suppose the reason these thoughts came about was because I’ve recently been seeing things I disagree with in a larger quantity than normal, and I find myself writing and rewriting the comments that I make, censoring how strong my opinion on the subject really is.  Sometimes I wonder if I should just say what’s on my mind and risk losing relationships.  But part of me is just a big old scaredy-cat (coincidentally, that same part of me is quite ashamed of being a big old scaredy-cat).

I’m pretty sure that if it really was something as big as seeing someone getting beaten up, I would be the one yelling at them to stop, but I haven’t yet been in that position.  So I can’t be so sure.  On the same token, I haven’t told people to get out of abusive relationships, and that’s pretty much the same thing as seeing someone get beat up and not saying anything (if not worse).  My biggest claim to “speaking up” fame was when a customer was making extremely rude and racist comments to a coworker of mine–to the point of making her cry–and the next time I saw that customer, I not-so-jokingly told her to make sure she was on her meds when she came in and also to spar with someone her own size.  At that point, I was so infuriated with her that I didn’t care if I got fired from my job for giving her a piece of my mind.  But even then, I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t just ask that customer to leave right there and then.

Another reason this post came about is because of the decision that was made today in the United States about health care.  Hubby and I had a brief discussion about the issue, and we without a doubt completely agreed with our stance.  (Ha!  You thought this was going to be where I’d politely disagreed, didn’t you?)

So here I think I’ll take the opportunity to take my baby steps into speaking my mind a little more freely.  When hubby and I were discussing this, we both came to the conclusion that the reason we believe what we believe about today’s decision is because we’re both of the mind that we’re looking out for the greater good of the many, rather than the extreme good of only a few (or one).  I am naive in some ways, one being that I thought everyone else in the world thought this way.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, we’re both actually in support of the fact that Obama’s health care law was upheld.  What I didn’t realize is that there are some people out there that look out in large part for themselves and their families and loved ones and are uncomfortable/outraged with the thought of using their hard-earned money to provide for someone who hasn’t worked as hard as they have.  And there was my learning moment: that this argument was one of the fundamental disagreements between the Democratic and Republican parties.  I have to disclose that I actually don’t staunchly associate myself with either party; I vote for the one whose values and agendas most closely match my own, regardless of the political party.  But on this point, I have to say that I have a liberal standpoint.  Everyone deserves health care, and I’m okay with paying higher taxes for that.  Everyone deserves a good education, and I’m also okay with paying higher taxes for that.  It’s my belief that it all goes to a higher quality of life in this country.  Then again, I don’t hold as much value in money as other people do.  Yes, it is important to have for a certain kind of sustenance, but love, if it’s real, is free.  That, to me, holds a much greater value than anything money could ever buy.  So if my money can go to happiness for other people, so be it.  There are many other reasons why I think this decision was a good thing, but that’s for another time.

I know there are people out there who disagree.  I’ve come across many of them, and I certainly don’t think any less of them.  I respect the fact that they worked hard for that money and it should all be rightfully theirs to spend.  I respect that they may think that’ll lead this country to ruin because people will just abuse the system and subsequently have the MINIMUM good for all, rather than the MAXIMUM good for several.  I get that.  I really do.

But in this instance, I am sticking myself out there and clearly, non-scaredy-cattedly–albeit still politely–disagreeing.  🙂  I am taking a deep breath and letting the chips fall where they may.

To Standing For Something You Believe In,

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