There will always be times when we don’t agree…with something or someone, perhaps you and me, or us and another. It may even frequently happen that we don’t agree. How many times have you heard someone in person or in the media speaking about a topic and been enraged by what was said? Were there times when the spoken or written words and thoughts of the other provoked a reaction that modified or even destroyed you inner peace and equilibrium? We have to expect that we, as thinking individuals, will not always have the same thinking or perspective as another or with a group, or with someone in authority. What would be worse than disagreeing… is losing our peace over it. Our own peace is vital to our being and our ability to be rational in the face of any disagreement.
Something we need to keep in mind is that we may or may not be right in our thinking. We may be completely wrong, but we need to see that there is a place for discussion. And there is a place for listening to the other side, the other idea, even when the idea may be anathema to us.
What is key to this, is both knowing what we believe to be true in the argument, but also to have a sense of serenity through the whole event. Remember that it may be that this discussion may not end with one encounter. We need to be able to return to the table to talk, and to be able to continue where we left off amicably or at least in peace. We should seek to maintain a serenity throughout. We should be able to rise above the emotions that come with the discussion.
When entering into the discussion look for positive areas and common ground. This may not at first be obvious but keep looking and keep focussed on both this commonality and your own side of the argument. We can only be true to ourselves and therefore honest with ourselves and others. Be prepared to give understanding of the other side, even when not in agreement. It is as much our body language as our words. As I said in one of my earlier blog posts – Better to show kindness in the face of insults and win an argument in ways that are unexpected.
Be diplomatic. That may seem obvious, but really it can go a long way to remaining calm and projecting the calm to those encountered. If we don’t agree on a point of topic, at least we can be diplomatic about the discussion and polite in the form. An anonymous writer said: “A distinguished diplomat could hold his tongue in ten languages.“
Pray. We may not think that this matters, but really everything comes down to this. Prayer keeps us focussed on God first. God in the centre and God who is present. By praying we seek guidance and we will not lose heart should the discussion prove to go against us in the end. What we should seek as an amicable solution to everything and hope for agreement, or at least the diplomatic agreement to disagree. But that will permit us to maintain our sense of peace. A peace that we need in a stormy world. Whether you are in business, or relations in the family, or with government offices and bureaucrats or differences in opinion related to the Church or religion generally, whatever area in life. It is that strong inner peace that will carry us through and allow us to live in a calm oasis amidst the struggles around us.
St Josemaria Escriva said: “If you live in the presence of God, high above the deafening storm, the sun will always be shining on you; and deep below the roaring and destructive waves, peace and calm will reign in your soul”. Indeed we should seek to live this. This could be the basis of our calm lives in a storm tossed world. What we need is the peace that only comes from knowledge of the teaching of the Master Himself: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (Jn 14, 27)
So when we don’t agree, or we with another, keep your peace.