Music and the Spoken Word

Putting People before Opinions - Sunday, September 7, 2014

This will always be a world of differing opinions. Like a brook that bubbles over rocks and obstructions, we frequently bump up against those who disagree with us. Learning how to deal with such obstacles is essential to happy living. Sometimes we navigate around them, proceeding on our way. Other times we find ourselves swirling in an eddy, unable to go forward—or worse, immobile and stagnant.
Some say that discord is inevitable, simply a part of life. But engaging in contention never yields a positive outcome. Rather, it distracts us from our goals, robs us of contentment and peace, and can even destroy relationships. No one ever wins a quarrel; both sides ultimately lose.
There are times when we want to persuade someone to see things our way. And if we can do so with kindness and respect, we have a chance. But arguing does not convince others of our position; it only convinces them of our disposition.
Do we sometimes value skillful debating over sensitive peacemaking? Perhaps we should be more like the schoolteacher who gave extra credit to students who could mediate a disagreement and get classmates to calm down and see the other side of things. Or like the couple who found that when they wrote down their feelings before sharing them, they were able to see how hurtful some of their comments were and revised them to be more loving.
Disagreements and differences are inevitable, but they don’t have to lead to contention or anger. We can choose to listen with our hearts, respond with respect, and turn down the heat when we sense tensions rising. By considering the feelings and perspectives of others, we can avoid the pride that turns our loved ones and associates into our opponents. Then, if we disagree with them, we can do so with love and respect, not hostility and contention. It’s not worth engaging in battle. We find a greater measure of peace and joy when we put compassion before contention and people before opinions.

- Joni Hilton