General Blather on Disagreement

by baldilocks

People hate it when you disagree with them.

No matter how reasonable they are, how willing to listen, nor how much they actively acknowledge the self-evident truth that each of us is different from every other in countless ways—even so-called identical twins—any given person’s first reaction to disagreement is anger.

That reaction many not even manifest itself, may last less than a second, and it may be so tamed or so dominant that is doesn’t even register to the person feeling the anger, but it exists for everyone who isn’t stunted emotionally. The person who has learned to tame his/her anger knows when it is appropriate and when it isn’t; that anger lasts but a second–if that long–and this process has become similar to an autonomic function. Like breathing.

The one whose anger is dominant is the problem, however. That anger can last indefinitely without the angry personangereven acknowledging it.  But, for sure, everyone who comes into contact with that person feels the fire, often because that fire is directed at them.

Those who have tamed their anger often learn to ask why other persons disagree. Such persons thoughtfully consider the other point of view if it is cogently explained and argued. The anger-dominated person never asks why, but simply goes into attack mode, and why not? Because, to her, you have initiated attack by disagreeing with her and all she is doing is responding in kind…or so she perceives. The anger dominated chick’s response has become autonomic also.

The angry seem to have reproduced like rabbits in highly trafficked online political comment sections of late, but they’ve always been around. Think about some family members we all have with whom we limit the topics of conversation. And let’s not even get started on the last four presidential elections—or the upcoming one.

Just remember that there are many people out there who view any deviation from their own opinion as an affront to their personhood, to their right to exist. Remember it and have sympathy for them. They have nothing else and many of them don’t want anything else.

DAY ELEVEN: Still not smoking. And my apartment is far more orderly than usual. Hurray for OCD!

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

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