Saturday, July 18, 2009

Agreeing to Disagree

While I was zoned out on morphine, Jacqueline kindly wrote an entry for my blog, on the subject of Language Usage.

First, let me state that I see zero possibility that I would ever become a morphine addict. That drug makes me dizzy, makes me vomit, makes my mouth feel dry, and makes me sleepy. Yes, it takes the edge off the pain, but as soon as I could, I demanded a non-narcotic pain killer. The doctors didn't know of any, but the nurse suggested Ultram or Tramidol. That drug works and lets my brain function. A day of that, and I was demanding to go home. The hospital has a silly test that nobody on morphine could pass. You have to go up and down stairs, get in and out of bed, sit in and rise from a chair and a few other practical daily activities. With the Ultram, I could do them, so they let me go. Yay!

Back to the main reason for today's blog. Jacqueline wrote: "If two people discuss a subject and discover they have differing opinions because they are each accepting as fact something the other thinks is not a fact, then the discussion must pause right there -- and fact-finding must ensue until both parties agree on the facts.

That means getting rid of the process that has recently become 'politically correct' of 'agreeing to disagree.'"

I don't agree with Jacqueline. She expected that. It's not a matter of whether we agree on facts. It's the importance and interpretation of the impact of those facts that we disagree about.

Jacqueline is a Republican. I'm a Democrat. This is not due to any ignorance of facts by either of us. We interpret human actions differently. We can agree on what we saw, but we'll disagree about the societal impacts of those actions. I'm not going to stop my life and ask Jacqueline to stop hers, while we do a major psychological study to see if we can amass enough data to prove either of our interpretations more likely to be repeatable. I'm not going to challenge her right to vote. Nor is she going to challenge mine.

Some facts that may be of interest.
makes the interesting claim: "Twice as many young American men died from suicide during the Vietnam War as young men who died in combat."

I've also read that the death rate was the same for young men who went to war in Vietnam and young men who stayed home.

If either of these statements are true, does that justify war? I don't think so. In my opinion, you also need to look at the death rates of the so-called enemy. And you need to ask if killing people is the best way to solve the perceived problem. It usually isn't. Note - I didn't say NEVER.

Republicans decided to go to war against Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attacks on the Twin Towers on Sept 11, 2001. Now a Democratic President is going to bring the troops home. Same facts. Different opinion about what to do.

So, I will support President Obama in his efforts to bring our troops home. And I will support Jacqueline's right to disagree with me.

Honestly most of the time voting seems as silly as the kindergarten class that voted on the gender of their classroom's baby hamsters. Even as a biology major, I often find it difficult to recognize the gender of a baby hamster. I'm willing to wait for the hamsters to mature in order to determine their sex. Waiting doesn't necessarily help determine the best course for society to take on any given issue.

And we're stuck with those less fact-based decision making processes. Empathy seems to be genetic.

Democrats tend to be more empathetic than Republicans. There's a fact with wide-ranging societal implications. Okay, Jacqueline, your turn.


  1. Lois:

    Well, this isn't a blog on politics (probably a good thing, too), but actually I was thinking of the political divide as I wrote that item about agreeing to disagree.

    I don't think Republicans and Democrats should agree to disagree.

    It's quite enough to DISAGREE, and because the root issue of the disagreement can't (yet) be resolved by fact-finding, we should continue to disagree.

    To agree to disagree is to DISENGAGE. And that stops communicating, problem solving and actually stops the whole dynamic relationship.

    I'd rather just continue to disagree so we can be friends, and maybe even partners in stirring up others to think hard about the issues of our day.

    The more people we can get to think hard, the better chance humanity has of actually solving the problem rather than focusing on whether two or more factions hold the same opinion.

    I've found that when you have two factions at loggerheads, like the Republicans and Democrats, it's very probably BOTH opinions are inadequately formed.

    That means both are about equally wrong and we need to find out what we don't know.

    We need more people looking at it as a problem to be solved rather than as a fight to be won. Then we might actually get somewhere.

    Tomorrow I plan to post a blog entry on Power in Relationships at where last Tuesday I posted an item about Scene Structure. They're actually related.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

  2. Dear Jacqueline,
    You've just agreed to my main point. We'll never have enough facts. We want to be friends. So we'll have to put our disagreements on a table where they'll sit forever. We agree to put them on the table. We agree that we disagree. That is the core of "agreeing to disagree."