ROSE NOLEN: Let's agree to disagree and still talk to each other

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — You can tell in a minute when you are talking to someone who is out of touch with the times. Fortunately, I can’t think of any occasion when I would be in a conversation with Todd Akin. I just don’t normally sit around talking about what women should do if they have been raped. Most police departments have people who deal with that subject.

I’m far more concerned with women who may have been attacked by someone who has HIV. It seems to me this is a far greater concern. We are talking about health and justice issues, right? But I guess we are really talking about something else, entirely. We are talking about the fact that women aren’t really harmed by being raped.

Actually, that is too absurd to merit discussion. I imagine that prehistoric men might have that conversation. They might discuss it while they beat each other over the head with clubs.

Most people I know are pro-choice. That does not mean they are not also pro-life. Most of the women I know have never had an abortion. Many of my friends are fundamentalist Christians, who believe abortions are morally wrong. Our disagreements are because I believe I cannot make choices for other people. They believe what is wrong for them is wrong for everyone. In the end we tolerate each other’s beliefs.

Personally, I would find it difficult to dislike people who believe that killing is wrong. However, I don’t understand people who support capital punishment. As far as I’m concerned, killing is killing. And I would especially have a hard time hiring someone else to do the killing for me.

The problem is that we say we believe that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but then we dislike people whose opinions disagree with our own. We all grow up in homes where people have all kinds of opinions. When we go out into the world, we are bound to find individuals who disagree with us, and often we have to find a way of getting along with them. And that’s good because it is the process by which we learn tolerance. And we all run across people in our lives who have never learned tolerance, and they are always at odds with people with whom they disagree.

Actually, I consider it a challenge when I come across people I like but with whom I have a basic disagreement. Understanding that I have to find a way to get along with them, I actually find it challenging.  Every now and then, I find someone who has chosen not to like me. I immediately set out to make them my friend. It is only when I succeed that I am pleased. I always find out something about myself that needs changing.

I haven’t had much luck with a lot of pro-life people. Because I am a Christian, they pretty much consider me a hopeless case. They can’t seem to understand why I wouldn’t like everyone to think like I think. But actually, I can’t imagine living in a world where everyone thought like me.

Who would people such as Todd Akin talk to? I’d hate to think of them not having anyone with whom they could share their feelings. Who would tell them that they need to choose better reading material?

In any case, he got to express his opinion and find out how wrong it was.  He was lucky. Some people never learn. And even when they do, it doesn’t help.

Life’s like that.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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