Dear Journal: Disagreement works better when we listen, too

Editor’s note: Karen Harris Tully is a writer who lives in Raymond and has agreed to keep a journal to share with Daily World readers during the odd and uncertain time we’re all navigating.^

Dear Journal:

I need to get off Facebook. Yes, I like the good posts and people’s photos, but everyone needs a break from the constant, divisive commentary on the news cycle.

So, I turn it off and go for a walk with my son. He’s dialed into Pokemon, talking about things like Snorlaxes and health and damage points, and I sort of get it but not really. Sometimes we see folks and give a wave and say “hi.” We run into a woman who also has young kids and our sons are about the same age. From a distance, we start talking about ending the stay at home orders and she’s feeling me out with some comments about how it’s all a hoax and killing our economy for nothing. My son was there, so we’re both guarding our words to not be too scary.

So, I’m just letting her talk, and I can see we’re pretty much on opposite ends of the political spectrum, which was not a surprise. And I say something like, I can’t wait for things to get back to normal but I don’t know when that’ll be, and I believe in science, so… yeah, that pretty much killed the conversation. We parted ways smiling, saying “May the fourth be with you.” At least we can come together over Star Wars.

I think we both silently acknowledged that we disagree, probably strongly disagree, and that’s going to have to be okay. We live in the same small town, our kids play sports and go to school together, or they will again. We have mutual friends. We’ve even shared a beer together around a summer bonfire and managed not to flame each other there either.

It’s harder to remember when online, but in a small town, a habit of burning bridges would come back to bite us pretty quick. And, it’s too easy to forget in our online bubbles, but it takes all kinds of people to make a society, all kinds of different experiences, perspectives, and opinions. We don’t have to agree. Listening respectfully may be hard sometimes, but it’s the only way to find out where someone is coming from.

I love our First Amendment. The freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the freedom to peacefully assemble (protest), these are our most important rights, and they seem ever more important right now. People have the right to say what they need to say, even against our government, as long as it doesn’t incite violence.

Sure, I don’t like what some folks have to say, and some people probably don’t like what I have to say either. But, if we can say what we need to, respectfully, and even harder, LISTEN when others tell us what is important to them, I think we might be surprised to find some elusive middle ground, like Star Wars.

Song of the day: Say What You Need to Say – John Mayer

Karen Harris Tully is a novelist living in Raymond with her husband and two small children. She writes sci-fi/fantasy for teens and adults and can be found at

Karen Harris Tully

Karen Harris Tully