Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mormonism & Learning to Love Those Who Disagree with Us

A good online friend (MikeinWeHo) once asked the following question in a thread about agency:

“Is it some core aspect of human nature that we really only want to tolerate people who agree with us?” (Comment #101)

My response was:

Unfortunately, yes, Mike. If it were not so, the Sermon on the Mount wouldn’t be much of a challenge. It is so easy to perceive disagreement as attack, and it is so hard not to attack when an attack is perceived.
I agree with the idea that we really want to believe in agency, but that we also are scared to death of the ramifications of agency. That’s why we need a vibrant Savior who promises to make up the difference between who we are and who we want to be – but also kicks us in the butt and demands obedience to commands.

Mormonism (at least what I view as pure Mormonism) embraces paradox and the need for opposition in ALL things more than any other -ism I know – and I’ve gained peace personally about a lot of things only by embracing that need and trying very hard not to condemn or belittle those who provide it for me. I fail miserably at that sometimes, but I’m trying to honor the way others choose to exercise their freedom / agency even when I disagree with them – and even when my disagreement with them might affect their ability to practice what they believe or restrict others from practicing what those others believe.

Sometimes we forget that we can disagree strongly with someone else and still love them – mostly because we often feel unloved and rejected when someone else disagrees with us. Yes, it is natural to tolerate only those on our side – and even to create sides when none need exist in order to feed that natural tendency. 


Anonymous said...

I totally disagree.

SilverRain said...

I think that depends on the disagreement. Most of us haven't the least clue how to disagree gracefully.

It is disingenuous to say, "I believe in X because Y is bigoted, hateful, ignorant, etc" and then cry foul when those who agree with Y try to defend their stance by claiming that they aren't being loving enough.

And that is the single most common mode of disagreement extant, I think.

Papa D said...

Would you mind elaborating, Anonymous? Do you disagree with everything in the post, or just that it's natural to reject those with whom we disagree? If I'd said "the natural man" instead of "natural", would that change anything?

SR, that is the most common way to view disagreement I have seen, as well. It can be summed up as, "If you don't agree with me, you must hate me, you bigot." It goes to the perception of being attacked and the attack mode I mentioned. That's sad, since there can be no understanding with that stance.

Howard said...

We perceive disagreement as attack because we don't want to be embarrassed and we fear loss of creditability some even turn this into insult as a defense. These are ego defenses and we need to out grow them. Opposition in ALL things begins where we began as children things are polarized like or dislike, black or white, good or bad, but as we mature this expands into a full gray scale.