Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in the branches of a tree, you’ve probably noticed that our country is in the process of trying to elect our next president. On TV, in magazines and at the water cooler at work you can hear discussions about both the Republican and Democratic candidates. You also probably have noticed a lot of disagreements, anger and even signs of ignorance or insecurity.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu once wrote, “We are not expected at all times to be unanimous or to have a consensus on every conceivable subject. What is needed is to respect one another’s points of view and not to impute unworthy motives to one another or to seek to impugn the integrity of the other. Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, to care for one another and cherish one another and seek the greater good of the other.”

One has to remember that it is not a character flaw if you don’t agree with someone and it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) take away from your opinion of that person if you feel differently. Watching the media clips of speeches, debates and news conferences, I can’t help but wonder, “If these people are behaving this way in front of millions of people, how do they behave behind closed doors?” The sniping, bad-mouthing and insult hurling is not the way God calls us to be.

While we don’t ever have to agree with another person’s opinion, what we must do is to respect that opinion and that person. And with that respect comes a lack of name-calling, a neutral tone of voice and the ability to listen.

As parents, have you ever gotten angry with your child only to hear, “Mom, please, just listen to me!”? We all want to be heard, but sometimes we just need to listen. And that means listening and responding respectfully. When you and your child (or spouse or friend or relative) disagree, think about how you might respond. Is it the same way you would respond to a co-worker or a stranger? Is it the same way you would respond to your boss or your pastor? Is it the same way you would respond to Jesus?

Let’s agree to disagree and to “seek the greater good of the other.”

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