We live in a deeply divided nation and this often means that we end up disagreeing with sensible people that simply think different than us. Too often all that we hear is anger, accusation and name calling on one extreme and silence on the other. This leads to deeper divisions and painful separations between family and friends. This should not be. Below are some ideas on how to bring peace to your situations when you are debating, “Who is wrong, me or my friends?”
Who is wrong, you or your friends?
Are all opinions equal?
In the years leading up to World War II and the attacks on Pearl Harbor; decisions on Navy operations were decided primarily by the president. Because he was the commander and chief his opinion was the only one that counted when decisions were being made regarding the creation of ships, recruiting sailors and even how to best protect our bases. Multiple times the president was warned about the dangers around a possible attack. But he would not listen to the Admirals and others in the Navy. Interestingly, FDR actually had no military experience short of anything he may have read about in books or seen in movies. Regardless the president could not be swayed by experts of his day.
The result was the disaster at Pearl Harbor and our entry in the war. Particularly when we are in positions of authority it can be difficult to allow others the right to give us good advice and share wisdom. There is a fear that if we change our minds we are a flip flopper or a weak leader. Authority does not instantly make us all wise so we must learn to listen to other people. As the conflict arises stop for a moment and decide if pride is stopping you from hearing the wise counsel of your friends.
For many years now I have worked with women who are escaping abusive situations. Often times they will return to their abuser despite pleadings and heartfelt recommendations to give it more time. Friends point out the dangers and remind her of recent history all with no result. Without fail a short season later we hear that the abuse cycle has continued and sometimes now with a vengeance. It would have been good to take in the opinions of your friends. When asking, “Who is wrong?” Start out by examining yourself and try to discover if pride is getting in the way of your hearing true wisdom.
Am I really ok with different?
Today there are strong opinions shared on social media. I might be alone but I feel my heart race and get excited when someone shares an opinion that matches my own. However, I also feel a bit of angst and anger when an opinion that differs from my own shows itself. I get particularly bugged when the opinion is being shared by a friend that I have usually seen as reasonable and friendly. I wonder what happened to cloud their judgment. This all goes along inside of my head.
The truth is that we all have opinions and our lives and experiences have shaped us in ways that we may not even be aware of. Steve Covey shares a story in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People about a disagreement with his wife over an appliance purpose. When she was growing up a local appliance company essentially saved her family from hunger and destitution so many years later she still felt obligated to that company. Knowing that her opinion was shaped by these experiences he was better able to hear her side of the argument.
I have friends who fight for different thoughts and ideas and I agree with some and disagree with others. But instead of simply dismissing the other side as haters or unintelligent baboons maybe we should stop and listen to their view point and how they got there. After all of that can we be tolerant enough to simply say we disagree on this topic, but I care about you. When asking, “Who is wrong?” Maybe we should engage in a conversation of understanding first and honestly attempt to fully take in the emotion of other’s opinions.
Is this argument a world changer or temporary?
One day as we were driving along a full scale battle emanated from the back seat of the car with screams of hate and vengeance and words of promises of justice. My two sons were just five and three but they were locked in a battle of wills over what turned out to be an empty candy wrapper. For a short moment they were ready to forfeit all future relationship for a piece of trash that should have been thrown out anyway. I read a news story once where a young man was killed because he would not let his brother be the car in the board game Monopoly.
Too often the things that we are getting all locked up on are actually not all that important. However, right now it may feel like the world will come to an end if I don’t get my way. Many times as I help folks work through personal conflict and we get to the point in the conversation about what the fight is all about the combatants cannot even remember what it was all about in the first place. People come to blows over hearsay and often simply wrong reports. When a battle is ensuing with someone that you know to generally be a reasonable individual take a moment to consider what the fight is really all about and does it really matter.
I could care less about which way the toilet paper roll comes off of the dispenser but I do care if someone in the house was respectful enough to ensure that the toilet paper was there when it was needed. Look at the real issues and discuss those. The temporary ones will pass away and won’t even be remembered next month. When asking, “Who is wrong?” We might want to examine the facts and decide if this even really matters or not.
Relationships are a critical piece of our everyday existence from a casual interaction with a checker at the local store to deep family relationships our health as individuals and as a society largely depend on how we handle conflicts. . One of my best friends throughout high school was one that I had gotten into a fist fight with in junior high school. I don’t remember what the fight was about, but I can say this. When we chose to dismiss the issue and actually took the time to get to know one another we were able to shape each other’s future. If we can do this well we can shape the future of many generations, in some cases we might even save a life or two.