Gracious Disagreement

Words, ideas and definitions are very important. We must not fear clarity of thought and expression. But there must be respect of difference in the world of ideas and daily life.

There are two sides we can fall off this horse: Fear of relational conflict sometimes makes us want to avoid clarity because conflict in the realm of ideas sometimes touches deep roots of insecurity and can be very ugly. It is easier to take the safe path of pretending to agree. A lack of clarity covers over deep disagreement. Confusion of thought does not lead to deep relationships but over time hollows it out. The challenge is to love in the face of difference.

John Courtney Murray, SJ once observerd that “Genuine disagreement is a rare achievement and takes hard work. Usually what we call disagreement is merely confusion. Often we think we are engaged in argument when we are only talking past one another. It can be an "achievement" to arrive at the point where we know the extent of our disagreement with somebody else.”

Ravi Zacahrias once said "If you can laugh at another person’s belief then you have not understood it". The idea behind this is that however unbelieveable something may appear to me it does mean something important to the person who believes it.