How to disagree with respect

I originally recorded the ideas in this post in February 2023, right after returning from our trip to Israel. Funny how the ideas are even more relevant now.


I would actually call my family’s trip to Israel an educational journey. We met with people from the Anti-Defamation League, listened to a Palestinian journalist who wrote for The Jerusalem Post, and visited Neve Shalom.


My family in front of the Wailing Wall December 2022

Neve Shalom, translated as “Oasis of Peace,” is a cooperative village in Israel, jointly founded by Israeli Jews and Arabs in an attempt to show that the two peoples can live side by side peacefully, as well as to conduct educational work for peace, equality, and understanding between the two.


Listening to those who run and live in the village opened my eyes to how complicated finding the balance is. It also revealed how important it is to be intentional about our communication, how we disagree, and finding common ground.


I have always said, when you are in a conflict and feel like you can’t move forward, move backward until you find a place of commonality. Then you can seek to move forward together. Easier in less complex circumstances.


As I observed these two cultures living in community, peacefully, they shared how some days are difficult. For example, one groups celebration of a victory or holiday may be the other community’s tragedy. That is hard to reconcile.


How did they manage?


As they put it, they focused on disagreeing with respect. They embrace the belief that if we know them as people, as individuals, rather than as a group, then we wouldn’t just blanketly think everyone has all the bad qualities of maybe a few of them.


The experience was both encouraging and disheartening. Here are my takeaways:

  • Connection and intention are critical foundations for peace.
  • We can disagree and still communicate our opinions respectfully.
  • We cannot assume what someone thinks, feels, or has experienced solely based on one element of their identity.


As I talk about in my book, The Connector’s Advantage, being open is also about being open to being wrong.


How do you stay open?

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