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This is not a post listing all the things and ideas I disagree with.  Rather, it’s about the idea of thinking about things, ideas, and people I disagree with and may not even like.

Have you ever read something that you completely disagreed with?  If not, you should.  It’s a good exercise to see how you handle disagreements and also to challenge your own way of thinking.  There are few things in life that are as difficult intellectually as reading the ideas of someone you strongly disagree with.  It forces you to examine your own beliefs, defend them, make arguments in favor of them, etc.  It also forces you to expand your mind to consider another way of thinking and believing.  This doesn’t mean you have to adopt these other ideas though.  A great exercise when doing this is to try to defend the line of reasoning of the ideas and beliefs you are reading.  You may not agree with them, but I’m willing to bet that you will walk away understanding how someone could come to the conclusions that they do.  Again, you might still think they are wrong, but at least you see the humanity behind the beliefs.

I challenge you to read a book from someone you know you will disagree with.  Have a conversation with someone you know you will disagree with.  And just listen.  Don’t try to be right, try to learn.  Don’t try to adopt their ideas, but ask questions that get to the heart of understanding how someone could come to their conclusion.  Find out what’s important in making their arguments – what are they protecting and what do they place value on?  I’m willing to bet that when you do, you’ll discover something you didn’t expect – that you aren’t as far apart in belief as you thought.  Granted, you’re not going to agree 100% on issues, but then again, I don’t think that’s the important point.  It’s not about conformity.  Rather it’s about understanding and being open to something – a different way of doing something that yields a similar result to what you value.

This may seem difficult to consider on some really divisive issues – say abortion for example.  But I challenge you to listen to someone who believes the opposite of what you do.  I’m willing to bet to that you would find that once you get past the rhetoric of the issue and you get to humanity of the argument and the people involved, you would discover some similarities.  Give it a try.  You might be surprised.