AGREE TO DISAGREE


Our points of disagreement do not erase or negate our points of agreement.  As humans, we do have values that we share.  This is not to say we don’t, also, have significant differences.  While our differences can often be sources of conflict, they don’t always have to be.  Can we not acknowledge that, yes, we do have common traits?  Is it not possible to consider that, although there may be considerable divisions among us, we are not betraying our particular group by working together on shared goals?  We cannot discount injustice, abuse of power or position, human rights violations, and acts of evil from the past and the present.  On the other hand, we do not have to demonize everything about a group of people (or condemn every individual in that group).  We can think of our worst enemy–someone who has hurt us more than anyone else on earth (and they did so intentionally).  If we are honest, we can name a few things about that person that we liked, agreed with, or had in common with.  In conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation, and any process that works toward a workable solution, the very first step is to determine what the common ground is.  Starting with the points of agreement builds the foundation of cooperation and progress.  It is not  helpful or productive for one party to focus on their goal (which is not a goal of the other party) while the other party focuses on their own goal (regardless of the goal of the other).  This strategy will only lead to more division and possibly escalate the problem.  As in any relationship, there are things that are areas of disagreement that will not change.  Rather than give up on the entire relationship, we typically learn to move past these things by strengthening the areas of unity.  While we can all agree there are things in the world that are not fair, are just plain wrong, and that may not change right away.  It does not mean that we cannot begin to pull together and work together on the things we can agree on now (whatever those things may be).  We don’t have to wait until we agree on everything to begin working on some things.

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