We Don’t Have To Agree, In Order To Be Kind To One Another

We don't have to agree on anything, to be kind to one another

“We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t” – Frank A. Clark 

It is interesting how as a human you tend to want everyone to think just like you do.  In my family, we like to have “conversations”.  When my grandmother was alive it was so interesting to listen to all of the adults after dinner.  She would usually introduce a topic that she knew some of my aunts or uncles wouldn’t agree on.

Then she would come at that topic in several different directions.  She was a researcher, and in her past had taught school in a country school with all the grades together.  She was really smart and if you were going to come at another viewpoint than hers, you had better know your stuff.

I grew up with it being normal to have conversations with others about conflicting viewpoints.  There never were any fights or loud voices.  No one was ever judged as wrong, just different.

So, raising my kids, we would also talk about things that we don’t agree with each other on.  My youngest son and I are on opposite sides of the political spectrum.  We all give each other a hard time, but it is with a joke encapsulating it.

No name calling or escalating into arguments.  Because whatever your viewpoint is about something, if you have an open mind, you can find some good points in almost any viewpoint that you can agree on.

He is pro guns and very conservative.   I am the “hippy” who still believes that someday we will really be a global civilization and get along.

What is so interesting is that we both have examples of the others’ beliefs that we can poke fun at, and we have lots of stuff that we are totally on the same page about.  The reason it works for us, is that we realize that as we grow and shift and transform, sometimes those viewpoints that we have held to for years, also change.  What you felt strongly about at 5 yrs. old; at 15 yrs. old; at 25 yrs. old; at 50 yrs. old will not be the same things.

Be a freethinker

“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs.  This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.  Where is it absent, discussion is apt to become worse than useless” – Leo Tolstoy

You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be kind to one another.  You don’t need to buy into being in fear of others, just because they are different. 

People are not meant to be matching bookends to you.  It really doesn’t matter what your political viewpoint is; what your skin color is; what your culture is; what sexual orientation that you identify with.  It doesn’t matter what your religion is. 

Imagine if you were to sit down and fill out a survey about any of the important things in life. Things like being able to feed your family; having a safe place for them to live; having adequate medical care; equality – both for racial relations and work wages.  

I think that the survey would reflect you could agree on all of those things universally viewed as being important.  You might differ in how you think it should happen, but those small differences should never escalate into hatred and violence.

Spread #love, not hate. Spread #peace.

Have you ever become best friends with someone that you didn’t agree with?  It is possible to love someone that you totally disagree with about certain issues.  My husband and I have been married for almost 49 years. Our politics are on the opposite side of the spectrums, and our religious views are not the same.  But in comparison to how much we had in common, those things don’t interfere with our loving each other.

Even though we are in different political parties, I can acknowledge the good in his viewpoints.  We agree that we can have our own religious views and still love one another.

I think it is part of what has made us successful in our marriage.  We are best friends even though we don’t have the same beliefs about every single subject.

The more we can see the humanity in one another, the harder it is to hate someone.  No one should ever be judged wrong, just because someone else doesn’t agree with every word they say.

You don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life.  Something as simple as a smile has turned a stranger who was walking down the street away from suicide.  

If you could just be kind to everyone you meet, that simple act of kindness could save a life.  Be a heart that listens, and throw kindness around like confetti!  Be aware of opportunities around you to be kind. 

I love the video called Life Vests Inside – Kindness Boomerang’s – One Day.  You can watch it on “YouTube”.  https://youtu.be/nwAYpLVyeFU

It starts off with a young boy falling off his skate board.  A man with a orange vest like a road worker helps him up.  Then the boy sees an elderly lady crossing the street and having trouble holding on to her bags of groceries, so he puts down his skate board to help her.  Then the elderly lady sees a young woman trying to find coins for a parking meter and hands her some coins, and it continues on to end back up with the road worker being given a cold glass of water.  What I loved about it is that they included young and elderly; men and women; white, black, brown races; rich business man and homeless man.  Everyone had a chance to both give and receive kindness. 

The growth comes from really understanding that there can be different perspectives.  From understanding how what has happened in another person’s background could create a different belief system.

We have this idea that someone has to be wrong and someone has to be right.  You should never judge another’s choices unless you have a thorough understanding of their reasons for making those choices.

This thinking would mean that in almost all cases, there is room in your world for more than one belief.  Obviously we are not talking about harmful conduct.

“The best ideas emerge when very different perspectives meet”  – Frank Johannsson

The analogy of the map and directions fits here.  If you are going to San Fernando Valley from Ventura, CA, you might take the 101 to the valley or you might take the 101 to the 23, which becomes the 118.

Which way you go, would depend on where in the valley you were going and what traffic was like.  The 101 tends to be tied up with traffic more often and the 23/118 would probably be faster, again depending on where in the valley you were driving to.

I could argue for one and you could argue for the other.  I could have experienced a faster time one day, and you could have experienced a faster time the other way on a different day.  Depending on the circumstances the wrong or right answer would change.

Most things in life are that way – it all depends on the circumstances and the perspective you are currently viewing life through.

Regardless of which view you had, you could still be kind.  You could still show respect.  You could still hold yourself to a higher standard of grace and elegance when having a discussion.  You could still try to achieve the same goal, getting to San Fernando Valley.

So be kind.  Be compassionate.  Be respectful.  Express your beliefs with grace and tolerance.  Spread #love, spread #peace.

Sheryl Silbaugh

I am married with 4 grown children who are all married and currently have 14 grandchildren and two great granddaughters. I work fulltime as a Director at Bank of America and I am the founder of LemonadeMakers.org, which is a website and Facebook page dedicated to personal transformation and growth. We all have life's lemons show up in our life, this website helps us to make them into lemonade.