How to Accept and Get Along with Those Who We fundamentally Disagree With.

This week I’ve been spending some time with H., who has been a good friend, mentor, and advisor for over twenty years. We care deeply about each other but inevitably conversation finds its way into politics, whether it be global issues or the most personal, and I’m reminded once again that we don’t agree on anything. Even the most benign issues, the ones that I think even he has to agree with this, end up being a challenge for us. I’m often left thinking: what gives? How is it we can disagree on so much and yet be so close?

I’ve come to realize that although we disagree on almost everything on the larger scale, we are close because on the individual level—the part where we show up everyday and interact with the world—we are quite similar.

  1. We both believe in showing up everyday, doing our best with the hope to make something better.
  1. We both want to create something, something of value that will hopefully benefit others.
  1. We care for the people around us and want to help them in everyway we can.
  1. We know that life is a gift, a gift that can never be overvalued and that should be experienced with all the gratitude and wisdom we can muster.

And that’s why we are close. Why we love each other. We just often disagree on the path to achieve these goals. And that’s okay.

As we enter another election year where we are bombarded by rhetoric and divisiveness, try to remember what connects you with the people in your life instead of focusing on what separates you. It’s a difficult task, I know. But if we step back from whatever position others are taking that is repugnant to us and try to see them as human beings wearing their own tinted glasses (just as we wear our own) it becomes harder to be angry and judgmental. Anger and judgment make us less than who we are. Empathy and compassion makes us better than who we are.

It’s a practice like anything else. And we are entering a season where that practice will be tested. Rise to the challenge, my friends.