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Re: Understanding difference

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  • Jim
    Mary, There is a lot in your short post, so I ll respond to each sentence in turn. Mary: Confrontation is unavoidable because of differences, and people can
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 6, 2013
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      Mary,

      There is a lot in your short post, so I'll respond to each sentence in turn.

      Mary: Confrontation is unavoidable because of differences, and people can figure out where they stand sooner if they accept them and deal with them head on.

      Response: Yes difference is all around us – difference in attitudes, values, likes and dislikes between individuals and between groups. I even find differences within myself from day to day. As you suggest difference often (but not always) leads to confrontation which again in on a scale from a disapproving word or look up to physical violence.

      Like you, I think usually it is best to acknowledge difference and get it out into the open, rather than sweep it under the carpet as some people prefer to do. In fact I think it shows respect to the other person to acknowledge the differences between you and them.

      Mary: We can understand and agree with some people some of the time about some things yet differences remain, and even when we think we understand, we may still disagree.

      Response: Some differences are easier to acknowledge than others. So I can agree that my philosophical views on understanding and matching thoughts are different from Knott's without residual feelings of anger, resentment and injustice. Philosophical differences can usually be acknowledged amicably – although when I was studying Philosophy at Nottingham I heard there was a fist fight between two of the Professors in the Philosophy corridor – however I don't think it was a dispute over ontology.

      Yes, sometimes we just don't understand each other, and again I think it is good to acknowledge this, even if this can create awkwardness, especially if the other has tried to explain his point carefully ten times or more!

      Mary: I think one of the essential existential dilemmas for people and society is how to 'handle' difference.

      Response: Yes, very much so! I recently broke off a forty-year friendship because my former friend was against gay marriage. I argued that because he was not religious, so he wasn't just following religious dogma, he was actually homophobic. He denied this, but I still broke off the friendship.

      Differences like this, and political differences generally, I find difficult to handle. I can't just "agree to disagree" with a right-winger – I cannot help but feel anger, resentment and injustice when I hear their views.

      Another area of difference is difference in attitude and values between me and my children. I think this is a bit of a "no win" area, as part of growing up during one's teenage years involves forming one's own distinct identity and personality, and one necessary way to do this is to define difference and distance from one's parents. So inevitably children will develop into independent-thinking individuals partly by forming attitudes and values different from their parents. But as a parent I want my children to see things as I do!

      This leads me to appreciate how important it is to allow others to be different from ourselves and not try to force everyone we fit into our own mould. In fact one of the most damaging of character traits is that of the `control freak', the man (usually it's a man, but not always) who wants to completely control his family, his work colleagues (at least those underneath him) and his friends (who have to be his disciples to remain his friends).

      Yes, as a species we struggle with difference.

      Jim




      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@...> wrote:
      >
      > Jim,
      >
      > Confrontation is unavoidable because of differences, and people can figure out where they stand sooner if they accept them and deal with them head on. We can understand and agree with some people some of the time about some things yet differences remain, and even when we think we understand, we may still disagree. I think one of the essential existential dilemmas for people and society is how to 'handle' difference.
      >
      > Mary
      >
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