Agree to disagree: The difference between debating and bickering

It’s easy to judge someone else for their differences. We all do it, and we do it constantly; we judge people based on their appearances, their backgrounds and — most importantly — for their decisions.

Making judgments is completely necessary and normal, but it’s common knowledge not to jump to conclusions or to judge people for things outside of their control.


There are many differences in opinion, but sometimes opinions are forced onto others who may disagree. We can take a look at politics for plenty of examples. Plenty of laws are made that are meant to protect people from themselves, regardless of what their personal beliefs or desires are.

A few years ago, Mayor Bloomberg of New York attempted to ban large sodas. Last year in Los Angeles, the city council was considering banning feeding the homeless in public. Car dealerships must be closed on either Sunday or Saturday, and liquor stores cannot be open on Sunday or past 9 p.m.

All of these particular laws have one thing in common: a disregard for those of different opinions and ideals.

Drinking or not drinking a large soda is a personal choice that affects one’s personal health. If one feels that selling or buying liquor on Sunday is wrong, it will not affect one’s freedom and personal health if someone else disagrees with this ideal.

Sometimes society has such strong feelings towards a topic that it chooses to outlaw them, regardless of whether or not the law is practical.

In some states, atheists are barred from holding public office. Such laws blatantly break the spirit of the First Amendment.

The First Amendment was created to protect those who hold unpopular opinions. It does not protect people who are causing direct or immediate harm, but it is meant to protect those with the most conservative, the most liberal and the strangest of views. Perhaps the spirit of the amendment ought to be applied to everyday life as well.

Debates over differences in opinion and religious viewpoints will always exist — even among the happiest and least confrontational of people — but perhaps everyone can agree to disagree more often. The skill is one that many people go their entire lives without learning.

George Whitefield wrote: “After all, those who will live in peace must agree to disagree in many things with their fellow laborers, and not let little things part or disunite them.”

Perhaps the most valuable lesson UH can impart through its diversity is tolerance. Debate is inevitable and healthy to a degree, but it is important to know the difference between debate and bickering.

The ability to agree to disagree and to respect the differences in opinion that others may have is vital to a healthy and happy life. Don’t let yourself be bothered by opinions that you can’t force a change in.

Opinion columnist Shane Brandt is a petroleum engineering senior and may be reached at [email protected].

1 Comment

  • Thank you Shane! Seems so simple and obvious but unfortunately many seem to enjoy bickering. Habitual haters…in the words of TS, “Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate”

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