“Learn to Talk to People You Disagree With”

“It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.” – Pete Seeger

I remember on Election Day when I was a little girl my mom and dad would go off in a car together to vote. My Dad supported one political party, and my mom supported another – but they cheerfully got in the car together and went to the polls to cancel out each others’ votes. They weren’t angry with each other because they disagreed about politics. They didn’t yell at each other, call each other names, cuss each other out, or think the other person was somehow an inferior human being – lacking in intelligence, reason, logic, and good sense. Nope. They loved each other. They respected each other. Although they’ve since then become members of the same party, at that time, they totally disagreed with each other about American politics – and it was alright.

They were a wonderful example to me.

Although one of my parents was, then, a Republican, and the other was a Democrat, although one was religious, and the other not – they shared the same values. Both my parents valued honesty, integrity, kindness, generosity, fair play, compassion, the beauties of Nature, and having a good sense of humor about oneself. They brought their children up to value those things, also.

Here are some useful things I learned about the exchange of ideas and opinions from watching my parents interact with each other:

  • Be kind.
  • Play fair.
  •  Laugh at your own nonsense, before you laugh at someone else’s.
  • Sometimes saying you’re sorry is the most important thing you can contribute to a conversation.
  • Avoid hearsay.
  • Don’t assume that a person is lacking in intelligence or reason just because he or she disagrees with you.
  • Listen.

I’m really grateful I grew up with the parents I did. I think it would be a marvelous thing if everyone treated each other with the same respect my parents gave to each other as they drove off to the polls on election day.

Rules of Engagement