The art of respectful disagreement

Danielle Johnson | Columnist

Respectfully disagreeing: when, despite not sharing the same opinion as someone, instead of immediately criticizing and looking down upon them, you respect their beliefs and use it as an opportunity to grow in your own.

The state of New York recently passed a new abortion law, as you are most likely aware, which allows mothers to “abort their children after 24 weeks if a health care professional determines the health or life of the mother is at risk, or the fetus is not viable,” according to FactCheck.org. Immediately upon the passing of this law, the internet blew up with the strong opinions of people across the nation, expressing their thoughts on this significant news. My news feeds on every social media platform - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter - have been filled with people arguing over whether they are “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” as if they are in a competition and both need to win.

One of the things I value most as a person and as a believer, is the idea that we need to love others. This concept I hold myself to, to love others, does not include “but only when I agree with them.” If we only support people when we agree with them, how would the world get anything done?

This article is not meant to showcase my personal stance as a believer who also happens to be pro-choice. It is meant to showcase my exhaustion in seeing people all over the internet believe they are superior because they hold one opinion or the other. I am personally tired of seeing many pro-life people, post about how they believe that anybody who is pro-choice is a bad person; is completely wrong; and some cases, is said to not be a Christian because of what they believe. If I didn’t agree with something that you said, would you want me to call you out on your religious beliefs and call myself a “superior Christian?”

I am pro-choice not because I support abortion. Not because I would like to see fetuses killed. I am pro-choice because I believe that women should have the right to make their own decisions about their bodies. I don’t believe that the government should be able to limit access to birth control, nor should they be able to tell a woman what she is or isn’t allowed to do with her body. Being pro-choice doesn’t mean I’m “pro-murdering babies.” No, it means that I choose to stay out of the decisions that other women make because I don’t know what they’ve gone through. I don’t know what their lives have been like or what has led them to this stage, but I do know that it is not my place to judge; to criticize; to hurt; to shame.

Next time you go to shame a woman for her decision, or to shame people who you don’t agree with, take a step back and realize that, in reality, there’s probably not a need for your opinion in that moment. And if there is, keep it respectful and mature. Because I don’t think you would want to be shamed for your beliefs or called out on your faith, and neither does anyone else.