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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

I beg to differ

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Lynette Sowell

My front porch

When you’re working on a project, it feels nice when everyone has the same ideas and wants to do things the same way. Especially if the outcome is successful. But how often does that really happen? No matter if it we’re in a club, a church, a school, or a family, there are exceptions to smooth sailing more times than not.

Inevitably, someone is going to disagree with the flow of the group and conflict can result.

But what makes conflict, true conflict? Simply disagreeing isn’t conflict. Unless you’re dealing with a toddler, whose whims change on the breeze, of course.

I read a particularly interesting meme on social media over the weekend. For technophobes, a meme is a photo that includes a saying, which can be either humorous or pithy.

This quote I read was the latter, and it came from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”

Hmmm. I pondered that as I read, and it made me stop and think a bit.

Our society is so prone to wanting smooth sailing that we are becoming conditioned to the idea that whenever someone contradicts us, that we are being persecuted.

Persecuted, as in picked on, degraded, unreasonably questioned. Don’t ever make suggestions contrary to what someone doing, as it can be interpreted as an attack on a person’s character or demeaning to them.

It’s a knee-jerk reaction. “You questioned me? You dare to have a differing idea? Why are you picking on me?”

There are sometimes group leaders who are happiest because they have the clout to get things done their way, which of course has to be the best way. They can be great leaders, or they can be horrible leaders when their ways are no longer effective and they won’t listen to contrary, or opposing, ideas. They won’t even entertain questions or see questions as a bother because, why, who is someone else to question, let alone be “contrary?”

But back to Ralph. When we’re the ones questioned, it can be a good thing. Questions can make us pause and think if what we’re doing is really the best idea. But our pride can sometimes get in the way of realizing maybe someone else might have a better idea and we dwell more on the personal perceived irritation that someone questioned us.

Maybe it’s a better idea to take a deep breath and realize we’re not falling into the Ralph trap, of thinking we’re being picked on because of a question or two. There’s nothing wrong if someone else begs to differ. Maybe, just maybe, a little contrariness will help us head in a better direction.


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