Healthy Mind/Healthy Soul/Living Out Your Faith/My Life/Teen Life/Witness and Evangelization Agree to Disagree?… Discussing Faith with Friends by Dillon Duke When talking with people I don’t know well, one of my favorite questions to ask is, “What is your favorite Disney movie?” It’s an innocent question that helps me get to know them a little more, and also creates an opportunity for the people involved to talk about something they can relate to. Also, it gives me a chance to talk about how much I love the movie, “Up.” While I wholeheartedly believe “Up” is the best Disney movie, I have found that everyone has a different movie they consider to be their favorite. I could talk about “Up” for hours on end, but I also find it fascinating to hear each person’s perspective on their favorite Disney movie. It’s awesome to hear other people’s perspectives because when I re-watch those movies, I keep their thoughts in mind and gain a new perspective on the movie. While I may disagree with them, I can still try to understand why they believe their favorite is better than the rest. Conversations about Disney movies are simple enough, but it can be rather complex when we talk about other areas of life in which we have differing opinions. However, it’s these types of conversations — when people talk about their differing opinions about a certain topic — that are lacking in our culture today. The bottom line is, we need to have conversations with people with whom we disagree. Conversations for the Soul The basic nature of a conversation is to discuss common knowledge or receive information we did not know. It’s as simple as that. Whenever we engage in a discussion with people we might disagree with, the nature of the simple conversation often escalates to something more emotional. When the viewpoints of those involved don’t complement each other, the dialogue might suddenly change — almost subconsciously — from a friendly exchange to verbal fight. When this happens, the chances of a productive dialogue ensuing seem to disappear. So, why even have a conversation with somebody who has a different opinion or point of view? Well, when we stop interacting with these people, we become trapped in our own bubble and are suddenly surrounded by people who think like us, which makes it even harder to be understanding, compassionate, and peaceful to those with differing perspectives. While it is not a bad thing to be passionate about certain topics and issues (especially when it comes to our religious beliefs), we need to realize that the people we speak to — and their perspectives on the matter — are just as important as we are. That being said, here are a few tips on how to be a great conversationalist, even when you strongly disagree with the person you’re interacting with: R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha Franklin needs it and we must give it to everybody we encounter and interact with. There are reasons behind why people feel the way they do, so we should respectfully hear them out. Other people’s life experiences may be different from our own, so it is only natural that they have different feelings about certain issues. Regardless of how ridiculous or absurd we might think their opinion is, we need to remember that we are interacting with another eternal soul who is infinitely loved by God. When Jesus was confronted by people who tried to discredit Him, He responded elegantly and lovingly because even though people were trying to trick Him, He knew He needed to treat them with love and respect. For example, when the Pharisees tried to get Jesus to say something against His own teachings, He responded without malice. His elegant answer — which lacked any bit of anger — left the Pharisees utterly amazed (Matthew 22:22). When talking to people we disagree with, we have to respond like Jesus did — with elegance and respect. While it might be difficult to put our emotions to the side, the conversation will not be productive if we just launch our emotions at one another. Facts and Feelings When it comes to debates, it is crucial to differentiate actual facts from our feelings. Both are important and should be discussed, especially since our emotions can help explain why we feel the way we do about a certain situation. While it is incredibly important to identify our feelings, we cannot ignore the facts, as they help keep the conversation grounded. Sometimes, a fact is the only point of agreement in a conversation… you can’t claim that a fact is false if it truly is a fact. It’s Not About Winning The value of a conversation should not be determined by whether or not the other person comes to agree with you. While it might be fun to turn debates into a competition, when we do this, we miss out on what a conversation is meant to be — an exchange, not a battle. Likewise, it is crucial to end the conversation, regardless the topic, with peaceful words. Arguments that don’t have clear endings, or have a bad endings, can weigh us down for a long time. It can be easy for us to be controlled by our pride, which often times leads to hurt feelings. When a debate ends, you should leave behind any negative sentiments or emotions, and not carry them with you for the rest of the day. This might seem like a lot of rules for something that doesn’t seem so glamorous, but they’re necessary if we are going to peacefully coexist with people who don’t think exactly like we do. Ultimately, it is important to have conversations with people who disagree with us, but in those moments, we must remember that they deserve to be loved and respected, too.