Over the last week, I have seen wildly opposing views and opinions on the state of our current situation here in Australia, flinging abuse at each other, hoping that the harsh words, criticism and mockery will bring change. It is easy to think that our opinions on lockdowns, freedom and vaccinations are isolated topics, given our current world climate, and that as COVID passes, so will opinions. Unfortunately, topics may change, but people will always have differing opinions. So I find myself asking, how to disagree with someone and still love?
Let’s make it perfectly clear, most of the time, we all want the same thing. In this situation, we all want freedom, we all want healthy lives, we all want to see our families, we all want to see our communities thrive, we all want to be heard. There could be a million different ways we can get there (lockdown or no lockdown, vaccine or no vaccine, protest or no protest) but the way in which we are presenting our “truth” has caused more harm and division while losing sight of what we are all collectively fighting for—a better world for all.
So, the question is how can we love people and have different opinions? Can we have people in our world that we disagree with? Although I feel completely ill-equipped to answer this question, I’m going to try my best to give some pointers because to see humanity thrive in beauty and peace, we must tackle the “us” vs “them” mentality.
- Listen and be respectful—that means we need to stop talking, stop thinking about our rebuttal, pause, listen and reflect. It’s not a fight for who is right, but an opportunity to hear. There can be truth in different sides of the story, we may not be seeing it from the same perspective because we don't like it when someone's opinion is different to ours.
- Be willing to accept we may be wrong—holding onto an opinion for dear life and slaughtering anyone with a different opinion is not the way to go. Be humble and open hearted enough that an opinion can change rather than holding onto stubbornness and pride. I've been humbled and had opinions changed, but I'm grateful to those who showed me grace through my own journey in altering opinions.
- Allow people to change opinions—things like “I told you so” are unhelpful and doesn’t foster a safe environment for discussion. We need to show grace when it comes to hard conversations, especially to those who have changed. Opinions aren't meant to be concrete observations that are completely unchangeable. As we listen and grow with information, of course our minds can be changed!
- Don’t make the person your enemy—address the thought and not the person.
- When anger walks in the door, walk out—you’re not going anywhere if both parties aren’t calm in conversation.
Reading this, you may be thinking, “hah, of course she is talking about opinion A, I can tell she’s an opinion A supporter” or “yeah girl, you put opinion C in their place! Us with opinion B, have done nothing wrong and opinion C deserves to check themselves”. This is not my intention for this post. I challenge you to reflect on things you've posted, conversations regarding others' views and heart posture towards those "on the other side".... have they always been gracious? No.
We are all guilty of pointing the finger. We all think we carry the truth that everyone else is blind to see.
We are losing our humanity in these rage-filled battles of opinion. The whole world is fighting against itself. Brother against brother. Sister against sister. What we are becoming is a scary vision of pride and hatred masked as truth.
We HAVE to learn how to have bloody hard conversations without the hate, name calling and to justify our righteous opinion, we're not helping anyone. You can insert any topic in this post (politics, abortion, LGBTQI+, refugees, climate change etc.) but have the situation play out exactly the same when people have opposing opinions.
For the greater good of humanity, HAVE your opinion, but find grace in the conversation and put aside pity and schoolyard antics. We are better than that.
I believe in humanity that can love beyond borders. One that can love beyond opinions. One that can love over politics and culture wars. But it starts with us.
You and me and the way we navigate hard conversations. We CAN disagree and still love, we just have to. Because that is the only way we will see beauty and peace rule.