Quotations about   disagreement

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Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued. They quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
“Farewell Address,” Chicago (10 Jan 2017)
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Added on 3-May-22 | Last updated 3-May-22
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Unfortunately, civility is hard to codify or legislate, but you know it when you see it. It’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor (b. 1930) American attorney, politician, Supreme Court justice (1981-2006)
Speech, Wake Forest University, North Carolina (3 Apr 1993)
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At the dedication of the Worrell Professional Center. Quoted in "Justice O'Connor Criticizes Lawyers for 'Rambo' Tactics," Washington Post (4 Apr 1993).
Added on 18-Apr-22 | Last updated 18-Apr-22
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We were like a lot of clocks, he thought, all striking different hours, all convinced we were telling the right time.

Susan Ertz
Susan Ertz (1887-1985) Anglo-American writer
The Story of Julian (1931)
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Added on 9-Nov-21 | Last updated 9-Nov-21
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Everyone loves the Revolution. We only disagree on whether it has occurred.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, # 8 (Spring 1999)
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Added on 28-Sep-21 | Last updated 28-Sep-21
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To disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen well, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.

Bret Stephens (b. 1973) American journalist, editor, columnist
“The Dying Art of Disagreement,” Lecture, Lowy Institute Media Award dinner, Sydney (23 Sep 2017)
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Reprinted in the New York Times (24 Sep 2017)
Added on 15-Jun-21 | Last updated 15-Jun-21
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Every great idea is really just a spectacular disagreement with some other great idea.

Bret Stephens (b. 1973) American journalist, editor, columnist
“The Dying Art of Disagreement,” Lecture, Lowy Institute Media Award dinner, Sydney (23 Sep 2017)
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Reprinted in the New York Times (24 Sep 2017).
Added on 2-Jun-21 | Last updated 2-Jun-21
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A society is most vigorous, and appealing, when both partisan and critic are legitimate voices in the permanent dialogue that is the testing of ideas and experience. One can be a critic of one’s country without being an enemy of its promise.

Daniel Bell (1919-2011) American sociologist, writer, editor, academic
The End of Ideology, Introduction (1961 ed.)
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Added on 5-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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From such Considerations as these it follows, that I ought never to be angry with any one for differing in Judgment from me. For how know I but the Point in dispute between us, is one of those Errors that I have embrac’d as Truth. If I am in the Wrong, I should not be displeas’d that another is in the Right. If I am in the Right, ’tis my Happiness; and I should rather pity than blame him who is unfortunately in the Wrong.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to Josiah Franklin (Apr 1738) [draft]
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Added on 8-Oct-20 | Last updated 8-Oct-20
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Respect only has meaning as respect for those with whom I do not agree.

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
A History of God (1993)
Added on 21-Sep-20 | Last updated 21-Sep-20
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Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that, if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe, say, or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

Rick Warren (b. 1954) American Christian pastor and author
“Rick Warren on Muslims, Evangelism & Missions,” interview with Brandon A. Cox, Christian Post (2 Mar 2012)
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Added on 27-May-19 | Last updated 27-May-19
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Consistently wise decisions can only be made by those whose wisdom is constantly challenged.

Theodore "Ted" Sorensen (1928-2010) American lawyer, writer, presidential adviser, speechwriter
Decision-Making in the White House: The Olive Branch or the Arrows, ch. 7 (1963)
Added on 14-Nov-17 | Last updated 14-Nov-17
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Philosophy had supplied Socrates with convictions in which he had been able to have rational, as opposed to hysterical, confidence when faced with disapproval.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 1 “Consolations for Unpopularity” (2000)
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Added on 24-Aug-17 | Last updated 24-Aug-17
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If you are threatened or offended by people disagreeing, challenging or even ridiculing your faith, your faith can’t be that strong.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (23 Sep 2012)
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Added on 25-Aug-16 | Last updated 25-Aug-16
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I do not kill everyone with whom I have a difference of opinion and I would not want anyone reading this memoir to think that I do.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Friday Jones] (1982)
Added on 27-Oct-15 | Last updated 27-Oct-15
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Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to Edward Newenham (30 Oct 1792)
Added on 6-May-15 | Last updated 6-May-15
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What Tully said of war may be applied to disputing: “It should be always so managed as to remember that the only true end of it is peace.” But generally true disputants are like true sportsmen, — their whole delight is in the pursuit; and the disputant no more cares for the truth than the sportsman for the hare.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
“Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1727)
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Added on 8-Aug-14 | Last updated 8-Aug-14
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Every man who attacks my belief, diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (3 Apr 1775)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 11-Apr-14 | Last updated 11-Apr-14
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Most Mens Anger about Religion is as if two Men should quarrel for a Lady they neither of them care for.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Religion,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
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Added on 17-Jan-14 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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‘Yes,’ I answered you last night;
‘No,’ this morning, sir, I say.
Colors seen by candle-light,
Will not look the same by day.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) English poet
“The Lady’s ‘Yes'”, st. 1 (1844)
Added on 2-May-13 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.

Horace Mann (1796-1859) American educator
Thoughts (1867)
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Added on 29-May-12 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism:

The right to criticize.
The right to hold unpopular beliefs.
The right to protest.
The right of independent thought.

The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood, nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know someone who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn’t? Otherwise none of us could call our souls our own. Otherwise thought control would have set in.

Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1965) American politician (US Senator, Maine)
“Declaration of Conscience” (1 Jun 1950)
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Added on 27-Sep-07 | Last updated 14-Nov-17
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From the same it proceedeth that men give different names to one and the same thing from the difference of their own passions: as they that approve a private opinion call it opinion; but they that mislike it, heresy: and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion; but has only a greater tincture of choler.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 11 (1651)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.

Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) American journalist
See It Now (7 Mar 1954)

Episode dealing with Sen. Joe McCarthy's of Communists in the US.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Apr-21
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You don’t promote the cause of peace by talking only to people with whom you agree.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
News conference (20 Jan 1957)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.

Emerson - Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted - wist.info quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (8 Nov 1838)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Apr-22
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