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“Agree to disagree” means someone has to lose

By Carmen Awad
On July 12, 2010

In today's politically correct world, we are taught to believe that we can all happily agree to disagree. It is generally accepted that everyone has their own opinions and that this diversity of sentiment is a positive thing, a sign of individuality. We believe that democracy works when everyone's thoughts are considered on a topic. However, such ideal outcomes are witnessed more often in textbooks than in human relations.

Have you ever been in a classroom where one student states his or her opinion and another student disagrees immediately? Have you noticed the grip-tightening reaction of the first student? People like to believe that they are open to differences, that they are good-natured. But this contradicts our instinctual response of flinching at dissent. So why do we keep the masquerade?

Although we live in a world of gray, ideals are black and white. Such logos and emblems give humanity a false sense of victory, thinking we have conquered our weaknesses. This indomitable voice of victory gives the masses the definition of acceptance.

It is ridiculous to hear preachers from different religions saying they accept all types of lifestyles. This is like saying that church and state are totally different subjects. A simple example illustrates this hypocrisy. In a country with citizens from different religious backgrounds, state and church would be in dispute on what should be lawful and what should not be lawful. In one belief system a cow could be a sacred creature; in another belief a cow could be a nutritious meal.

So how do we satisfy both beliefs? What is the compromise? If we say "live and let live," then we are eating someone else's sacred creature and are, therefore, not letting them "live." At the same time, if we outlaw the eating of cows, then we are forbidding the meat-eaters from enjoying their choice of lifestyle.

A similar, problematic situation exists in our current debates on abortion and same-sex marriage. Whatever decisions we choose, we will end up condoning the beliefs of some and prohibiting those of others. Therefore there is no such thing as acceptance of all beliefs. We can certainly present opposing points of view, but to accept them in practice is impossible.

We must also to recognize that even though we claim our law system and our belief system are separate, we only allow things to be lawful when we believe they should be lawful. This game of pretense is not beneficial for a society made up of people from many religious backgrounds like ours. It merely instills a child-like hope that everyone who is truly different can agree to disagree.

-Carmen Awad is an IC columnist and a sophomore majoring in business administration

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