(Updated September 30, 2017)
It is possible to agree to disagree.
When I was in the Army I was stationed in Europe for 5 consecutive years from 1998 to 2003. I was in Italy when the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred.
As we became re-acquainted with living in America, I could tell that the country had changed. Some of it was good. There was a unified sense of identity as Americans, and I noticed a stronger sense of patriotism. There were also some negative changes. The one that stood out the most is that no-one was having conversations, they were having arguments. And those arguments were “allow no quarter, winner take all” events.
The news stories, the political pundits, and the politicians themselves seemed unable to agree to disagree. They would not accept any opinion other than their own. I found this to be very frustrating. Just because you see things from different perspectives does not mean one of you is wrong. In fact, you may both be right!
In the ensuing decade and a half this has only gotten worse. Issues are presented in a checkmate, where a dissenting opinion is proof that you are part of the problem, rather than a person who may have a question or has a alternate idea.
As 2017 comes to a close, I am focusing my efforts on listening. Although I may not agree with what is being said, I want to hear their opinion so I can gain insight on their motivation and concerns. Understanding and success are achieved through conversation rather than conflict. It is OK to disagree with someone while honoring their perspective. You can agree with some points but not others – it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. And when you agree to disagree, it opens the door to continued collaboration to achieve something that neither might achieve alone.