For me, disagreement is a fundamental demonstration of love. That we care enough about the person and ideas we are passionate about to engage them. The defining issue is our ethic of how we choose to disagree.
Understandably, activists for any type of cause get mired in actions that often make people angry on one end of a spectrum or another. Remember: To live in community is to live in conflict.
We cannot be in community with others unless we are also willing to engage deeply enough to have conflict and disagreement.
How do we disagree? Depending on the day I’ve had, the weather outside, and the people I’m surrounded by, I have conflicting opinions.
When I’m in a primal state, like at the gym, I believe we disagree like wild animals- our nervous system tells us to fight, flight, or freeze.
After a poetry reading, I feel just the opposite. “We have consciousness!” I argue. “We disagree like philosophers! Like rational beings!”
Knowing how to disagree in a constructive manner is one of the core pillars for ensuring a healthy democratic culture. As Thomas Jefferson once noted “Difference of opinion leads to inquiry, and inquiry to truth.” It is also a core value in Jewish tradition.
When it comes to an issue as highly charged as Israel, how do we disagree well rather than poorly? Israel has become the most volatile wedge issue in American Jewish life. People often have their hackles up in advance when it comes to Israel, and many are intimidated from speaking at all for fear of being labeled or inadvertently stepping on a landmine. Many experience that their only options are surrounding oneself with the like-minded, devolving into bitter argument, or avoiding the conversation altogether.
The holiday season has come to an end; for many people, it was a filled with days spent decorating houses, catching up with friends and family, and going to the mall to return hideous sweaters. But for those of us in our twenties, part of your holiday may have been spent pouring an extra shot into our egg nog in preparation for the inevitable barrage of questions about our romantic relationships (or lack thereof.) My 85 year old grandmother, for instance, has started a fabulous holiday tradition where she watches football with me and points to the NFL players she thinks I should be dating.
Love: it sounds so simple, but is actually quite complex. People often describe a felt sense of the experience of love, as in “I feel so loved,” or the longing for “unconditional love.” Love is not something we can measure, hear, observe or hold, but we believe in it.
There are many different kinds of love:
I’m on campus a lot. With classes and all the meetings that come along with clubs and responsibilities, I’ve got my fair share of walking to do. My legs are lucky as our campus is fairly small, but every day I can’t help but notice that there are so many who walk with their heads down. With the eyes of my peers cast away from others, basic human connection is easily averted. This troubles me.