OPINION

Mid-week Musings || Disagreement and the dialogue of diversity

A priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk walk into a bar and the bartender asks, "Is this a joke?"

Maybe the above event is rare, but it shouldn't be.

In the pluralistic society it appears Australia has become, is there really any type of future other than together?

But does peace mean we all have to agree, or does it mean we have to accept what others say?

Is there another acceptable opinion?

I think it is good that we are also so connected now via social media and the like, but can we be too connected?

Last year a hairdresser who is a friend of mine, got herself into an online argument with someone that got way out of hand.

I tried to help her, but we were badly outnumbered by online trolls and keyboard heroes, which didn't worry me, but it broke her heart.

These trolls found her business page on the net and trashed it with filth and wrote horrible reviews of her hairdressing skills, even though they had never even met her.

Her hitherto impressive page of happy customer reviews was all for nothing now and she had no other option than to shut her site down.

And all of this over one disagreement between two people who never met.

So many disagreements these days end in irreconcilable differences.

I noticed it very clearly during the same-sex marriage debate that differences in opinion on this one issue polarised so many people who otherwise would agree on thousands of other subjects of interest.

Perhaps this national debate deepened a chasm between us.

Perhaps it just brought our differences to the fore.

Either way, we should not look at people as being bad just because they don't see the world the same way we do.

I remember being at a particularly joyous wedding reception once and seeing this man just sitting down at a table, not talking to anyone, so I went over to him and said, "G'day mate!"

He replied abruptly: "We're not religious!"

I sheepishly replied: "Um... just... saying hello" as I slid back to my place at the bar and continued to drink responsibly.

I've got to admit, I was annoyed.

I try and do my good deed for the day and I get snubbed like I'm trying to sell him shares in HIH Insurance!

What's more, if he had come over to me to say hello and I'd said, "We're not pagans!", I'd have been condemned for being a bigot, and rightly so.

Now you might say to me, "Well, people with very different views are never going to get on", but that's simply not true.

Now you might say to me: 'Well, people with very different views are never going to get on', but that's simply not true... one of my best friends thinks religion is evil, the church is corrupt, Christians are simpletons... you get the drill.

Apart from the fact that more than half of my friends are not religious, one of my best friends over the last 16 years has been a diehard atheist, and I mean, diehard.

He thinks religion is evil, the church is corrupt, Christians are simpletons... you get the drill.

We have lots of other differences outside of religion too.

For example, he likes to tell lots of jokes, but I like to tell lots of funny jokes.

So why does it work between him and I so well, even though we so thoroughly disagree on things that are so close to our hearts?

I think it's because we know we have each other's back and would even die for each other.

We both agree it's okay to disagree.

We both know an argument is an opposition to an idea, not an opposition to the person who believes in that idea.

But here's the thing. Our different views have made our conversations more interesting and fun.

I'm catching up with some Essendon supporter mates this Friday night to watch Collingwood thrash Essendon and I'm already preparing my insults and comebacks for the game.

They will disagree with my insults and comebacks I hope, but how boring would life be if they didn't?

If you truly believe in equality within diversity, I think you should accept there will be disagreements sometimes.

If you disagree with me, I guess that has to be okay too.