Learning the art of agreeing to disagree

Art by Ina Jacobe

I’ve always been an argumentative person. I’m not sure if I’m just uncompromising like other Taureans or if it’s really just my INFJ personality type. It’s quite ironic, considering that I’m also painfully shy. Despite my introvertness and the looming possibility of having a hostile conversation, I just genuinely enjoy debating with others for some reason. Given the endless issues we had to face last year, I’m pretty sure most of us have encountered an argument or two for fighting for what we believe in.

As a prime example, during last year’s election period, I actively argued  — and yes, even fought off — trolls, strangers, friends, and family regarding their personal (and questionable) bets. I’ve reached the point where a barkada of Marcos apologists tried and failed to intimidate me on Twitter. They bombarded me with at least 50 unnecessary tweets to the point that some of my friends responded to them just to establish their alliance with me. Thanks, friends, and sorry for the inconvenience.

I mean, come on, would you really support a Marcos just ‘cause his son looks like a budget-friendly Daniel Padilla? First and foremost, have you ever even properly discussed Martial Law in history class? Second, as someone who cares for the country and for the future of the youth, y’all have to trust me when I say you can’t support the son of a dictator just because his son is pogi. Fact check: #MarcosMagnanakaw and his son is not even that~ pogi.

Obviously, I can’t calm my tits when it comes to situations like this. With the alarming number of posts and comments I’ve posted online, my parents sent me a Viber message one day asking me to tone down my political opinions. They were worried that I might get myself in trouble. In response, I told them, “Dearest mom and dad, thanks for caring, but your efforts to put me in a good school will be wasted if I don’t apply the things I’ve learned. Hehe, I love you.”

Throughout the course of the elections, and until now, I’d call my parents on Facetime just to randomly discuss world issues. Occasionally, I tell them why they shouldn’t support certain politicians. Don’t get me wrong; that’s not all we talk about. I also call them when a makeup brand drops a new collection. Score check: Ina – 1, Everyone else – 0.

In all honesty, learning to express my disagreement on things was not easy for me to do at first. I grew up in a conservative environment that taught me to be conscious of what people said about my actions. This automatically grounds me to check myself all the time.

“Remember that helping other people can only be done to an extent — know when to turn your back once you realize that what you’re dealing with is a lost cause.”

I’ve been told that I’m too smart for my own good, that I’m rude because I roll my eyes too much, or that I’m being so negative all the time. Being opinionated comes with the consequence of dealing with what people have to say, too. And though some people can go below the belt with their comments, I’ve learned to accept feedback — good or bad — wholeheartedly. Despite all the aggressiveness brought by this odd type of courage, I do know that I’m not always right.  If there’s anything 2016 taught me, it’s to be more understanding and patient in general. To be clear though, outrage and patience are not mutually exclusive when it comes to arguments. We all have different realities so we should do our best to try and educate each other about it because shaming and sarcasm rarely work. Believe me, I have tried enough times to know.

But even if we want to put on our white hats and be the Olivia Pope we all want to be, we can only do so much because arguments are always a two-way street. Remember that helping other people can only be done to an extent — know when to turn your back once you realize that what you’re dealing with is a lost cause. Yes, it’s best to find a common ground when it comes to things like these, but most of us are not willing to compromise our stances on certain issues. I understand that “respectfully disagreeing” with someone is a difficult concept to grasp, even I still slip up sometimes. Again, thanks to the real friends and family who are patiently on the lookout, I’m slowly learning how to distinguish the battles that aren’t worth the trouble (a.k.a. “Marcos, pa rin mga ulol!”) and to properly settle my differences with people.

So my dear fellow hater, the next time you want to go into a lengthy debate with someone, take other people’s views into consideration and try to understand where they’re coming from. Talk to someone who might know more about the topic, or someone that can ground you before you start hating on another person’s views. Intellectual discussions are highly encouraged, preferably over coffee or beer — not in the comments section. The world is hostile enough as it is, so it’s very important to be kind. Reality check: You will always disagree with someone, but let’s agree that you don’t have to be annoyingly righteous about it.


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