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Old 05-25-2016, 09:15 AM   #1
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If everyone thought, acted and believed the same, life might be easier, but most certainly dull. We're not the same, so the differences make our lives interesting.

So the question is, how do (we)/(you) handle these differences?

Spouse, children, parents, relatives, neighbors, schoolmates, co-workers, bosses, community and government leaders, and people we meet.

Without getting into any details about your own beliefs, just consider the vast differences we confront every day.
-Your mom doesn't like your spouse.
-The kids are growing up in a different type of society (outside your home)
-Your cousin Charley is totally political... a loudmouth and insistent about his beliefs.
-Aunt Mary married into a different religion and joined her husbands faith.
-People of a different race/religion/age bracket/etc. have moved into the neighborhood and are looking to be included.
-Your immediate circle of contacts seem to be of like mind on major beliefs, and you don't share them.
-People who you must interact with, have a different set of moral values.

You get the idea... differences... and differences that are not always silent.

Certainly, no easy answer, and no one-line solutions. None of us is that simple. So some situations we avoid. Some we ignore, listen and don't respond. Some we engage and voice our own thoughts. Others, we may grit our teeth, and in the interest of peace and friendship, simply smile and agree.

The toughest and most sensitive conversations are probably about politics and religion. The latter, easier to handle or avoid, but the former, a natural battleground... especially in today's atmosphere.

After spending a quarter century living in communal environments... with retirees, we've found that most of these people adjusted, without open animus. Perhaps because the communities were relatively small... several hundred people with similar backgrounds (working-man) middle income, and brought together by the thoughtful choice of community. Not all of course, but the vast majority. The oddball egoistic, narrowminded and mouthy ones receive a laissez faire acceptance that keeps the peace.

Today, with most of our neighbors and friends in the early seventies up to those who are older than 100, age has leveled the playing field, and almost no one is willing to take on hot issues.

But back to the original question... for those who aren't yet passively happy, and who deal with a more varied assortment of people and opinions. While we talk about the "get off my lawn" approach, very few actually follow this philosophy.

How do you handle the differences in the world around you? You can't be a true curmudgeon, or you wouldn't be posting here, and a one line answer to face the different situations is just impossible. More like a philosophy of your interaction with a very varied society.

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Old 05-25-2016, 09:20 AM   #2
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I was very outspoken in my 20s, arguing with anyone who would take me on. Age has tempered that a lot, and I tend to be more live-and-let-live these days. I can say that I now avoid most of the blowhards we know, figuring that life is too short to listen to their vitriol. This has the unfortunate effect of keeping me in a bit more of a bubble, wherein I spend most of my time with people who "think like me", which isn't ideal.

I figure that it is incredibly hard to sway someone's opinions and beliefs, so I don't really have those conversations very much. The one exception is my boss, whose beliefs veer off to one side of mine, and who I enjoy poking with a stick every now and again to get his take on a given news item or recent research. Those conversations are civil, and usually end with us meeting in the middle.
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Old 05-25-2016, 09:28 AM   #3
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I don't even try to handles the differences around me, just acknowledge and enjoy them. From these differences we learn, compare, improve.

Variety is the spice of life.
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Old 05-25-2016, 09:36 AM   #4
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I don't even try to handles the differences around me, just acknowledge and enjoy them. From these differences we learn, compare, improve.

Variety is the spice of life.
Pretty much what I do. In the forums it's pretty easy...if I see a topic that might be "hot", I avoid it. That's why I like it here so much, there is no discussion allowed about the stuff that people get so heated about. I think it's ridiculous to argue about many of those topics anyway, you really aren't going to change the mind of people in regards to: religion, abortion, politics, well...you get the point. As an example, another forum I frequent had someone create a poll "Could You Be Wrong About God?" As you might guess, it's the longest thread on there, and has been at the top of the list for DAYS. I can only imagine what's being said (I say imagine, because I don't dare look at the responses!) and it has NOTHING to do with the purpose of the forum.

Anyway, for conversations outside the interwebs, I try to avoid the same subjects and with the exception of politics, most of the people I am around don't talk about it either. Of course, all of us have that "one uncle" that tries to get people all stirred up, but it's pretty east to ignore him!

I have never been a social butterfly, so the times I am forced to socialize with people is pretty limited.
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Old 05-25-2016, 09:40 AM   #5
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I felt like an outcast through much of my youth--misunderstood at home; bullied at school. I developed a strong ability to do my own thing despite opposition, and it paid off for me. I entered adulthood confident in my own skills, ability to learn, and ability to thrive at whatever I decided to do. How do I handle difference? I'm tolerant of others because I know I won't be likely to change them, certainly not by arguing. And I very often simply pull back from a person or people whose differences are so grating or so disturbing and just go about living my own life. Ultimately we are in control of who we want to associate with.
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Old 05-25-2016, 09:48 AM   #6
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I can almost always find something that I agree with my companion of the moment on. I steer toward that and leave well enough alone.

(libertarian agnostic with admiration for judeo-christian religions (and the religious) and their overall beneficial impact on western civilization both today and historically; if I search for it, I can always find ways to antagonize, or not, just about anyone!)
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Old 05-25-2016, 09:56 AM   #7
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I can almost always find something that I agree with my companion of the moment on. I steer toward that and leave well enough alone.

(libertarian agnostic with admiration for judeo-christian religions (and the religious) and their overall beneficial impact on western civilization both today and historically; if I search for it, I can always find ways to antagonize, or not, just about anyone!)
+1 Pretty much saves me from posting.
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Old 05-25-2016, 10:34 AM   #8
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My behavior depends on the situation. My beloved son, raised liberal Episcopalian, is now a devout evangelical Christian. We have good conversations. Neither of us is determined to drag the other over to our side (not gonna happen) so our conversations are more, "have you thought of this angle..." or "what would you do in this case..." I can have those conversations with him. I've encountered others who cannot have a logical argument and don't listen to me, but instead repeat whatever they just said in slightly different words. No use talking with them, and I avoid the areas where we disagree. I disconnected from one FB friend because she was incapable of arguing logically. It was all emotional and all about what SHE wanted me to believe.

I also use actions rather than words. I was happy that the 3 priests officiating at our wedding included a woman. Just a gentle reminder to my Roman Catholic relatives that we're different!


My FB connections are all over the spectrum: former HS classmates who believe everything the Pope says, four same-sex married couples, one former coworker who adores Trump... so I exercise moderation in my posts. When I attended a same-sex wedding I just posted a picture of the favor: a bundle of Hershey kisses with tags bearing the name of the 2 spouses and the comment, "It was a lovely wedding". I got nothing but Likes.
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:06 AM   #9
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I try to be cognizant of the differences.

I think people's views of how things "should be" come out more in situations like holiday gatherings, weddings, funerals.

No matter how "electronically connected" we are, for non polarizing, pleasant conversations, still a good idea to avoid topics of sex, religion & politics. .... That's why there are heated discussions on sports .
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:08 AM   #10
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I greatly enjoy deep conversations about complex issues. Usually these center around one of my hobbies or intellectual interests. On occasion, this might delve into controversial political or social issues. I rarely if ever have strong feelings one way or another on such issues. I just enjoy the discussion because I find analysis of our differences to be far more fascinating that what makes us the same.

However, there are only a few close friends and family members who can intelligently examine both sides of a "testy" issue without becoming emotional or competitive. So I don't get to indulge very often and I find that disappointing. I generally avoid conversations about divisive issues unless it's in a very small group with people I know from experience can handle the discussion and share my fascination about differences. Also, even in those instances, I always let the other person start the discussion. I then very cautiously navigate the discourse until I know it's "safe" to continue without risk of becoming a competition.

Ironically, I'm often thrust into the role of peacemaker. For example, we have family from the other side of the pond, and we have family who have lived in rural America for generations. When we all get together (typically at my house), the family from the other side of the pond has this strange tendency to raise the issue of gun control. I instantly become like a forum moderator and shut down the conversation before it even begins, usually with some humorous, distracting remark about the weather. But everybody knows my intent and respects it. Kind of a shame. I'd really love to have that conversation but it's extremely clear that neither side can handle it with civility, so there's little point.
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:09 AM   #11
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There are three things I refuse to discuss with anyone: 1) religion; 2) politics; and I can't remember the third.

My vow after reading several simplicity books last year was "no more drama" meaning now that I'm retired I refuse to get involved in any situation that disrupts my contentment (harder than it sounds in city of crazies like Los Angeles).

In returning from a glorious vacation in Mexico my current vow is: "I don't care and it doesn't matter." It's working.
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:44 AM   #12
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However, there are only a few close friends and family members who can intelligently examine both sides of a "testy" issue without becoming emotional or competitive. So I don't get to indulge very often and I find that disappointing.
You put it much better than I did. Those people are rare. DH and I aren't on opposite sides of too many things, but we can also have those conversations, which is something I treasure.
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:57 AM   #13
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I have a very good friend who is able to just start laughing whenever a conversation veers into trouble. She is adorable and charming, and the person trying to argue with her has no choice than to laugh along with her.

I have noticed that the closer people feel they are to me, the more likely they are to need to dump their arguments on me. We recently had some people over to dinner, one of whom being an old friend of DH's who I barely know, and he did not mention one word of his rabid political beliefs, even though he had regaled DH and others he was closed to about them just a couple of months ago.

Unless I find the arguments offensive (clearly racist, for example), I try to steer away from the topic or literally steer myself away. Now that I'm old and outspoken, I have no trouble calling someone out for being offensive.

If I did social media, I would figure out how to make them invisible to me. I no longer get any argumentative forwards.
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Old 05-25-2016, 12:05 PM   #14
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How do you handle the differences in the world around you?
1) Avoid troublesome people
2) Adopt more cats
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Old 05-25-2016, 12:10 PM   #15
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It depends. I mostly try to avoid discussing it when I feel any discussion would not be fruitful and would hurt the relationships. I have some relatives that post on Facebook or retweet political stuff on Twitter that don't agree with. I love them, but hate their politics. So I just ignore all that stuff. If it comes up in conversation I laughingly say I support the other candidate (or whatever) and then suggest we change the subject. Thankfully, these are people willing to do do so and not inclined to try to convert me to their point of view.

My 92 year old mother is difficult at time because she never lets go of anything. For example, we have several dogs and a few cats and she is fixated on the idea we should get rid of the dogs so we could more easily travel. In truth, the dogs are basically my husbands and I will be glad to be able to travel more easily and to move somewhere smaller once they pass on. But, I'm not going to euthanize them or take them to animal control to achieve this. My mother can't give it up. She says I should sell them or give them away (not much market out there for dogs that are 7 to 12 years old and, besides, we love the dogs). I briefly tell her that we can't sell or give them away and don't want to. I try to change the subject. I don't want her to agree with me. I just want her to give it a rest. It is a challenge because she circles back to it every few months and we have to go through the whole thing again. Very annoying. That is just how she is. She doesn't give up. No matter what. I guess she figures she can badger me into whatever she wants. She will eventually drop it for a time (thank goodness), but always comes back to it. I've explicitly told her that it is a waste of time and we aren't changing our views but it doesn't help....
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Old 05-25-2016, 12:40 PM   #16
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Do you have "pet sitters" where you live?

I don't like kennels or boarding (cages) much either, the animals do much better in their own home. So I have been using a pet sitter when I go. They come in 2 to 3 times a day, feed, water, pet them and take them for walks. Works well, I never had a problem. In addition they are there to see that no evil has befallen your house and take in the mail and give it that "lived in look"
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Old 05-25-2016, 12:53 PM   #17
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My 92 year old mother is difficult at time because she never lets go of anything. For example, we have several dogs and a few cats and she is fixated on the idea we should get rid of the dogs so we could more easily travel. In truth, the dogs are basically my husbands and I will be glad to be able to travel more easily and to move somewhere smaller once they pass on. But, I'm not going to euthanize them or take them to animal control to achieve this. My mother can't give it up. She says I should sell them or give them away (not much market out there for dogs that are 7 to 12 years old and, besides, we love the dogs). I briefly tell her that we can't sell or give them away and don't want to. I try to change the subject. I don't want her to agree with me. I just want her to give it a rest. It is a challenge because she circles back to it every few months and we have to go through the whole thing again. Very annoying. That is just how she is. She doesn't give up. No matter what. I guess she figures she can badger me into whatever she wants. She will eventually drop it for a time (thank goodness), but always comes back to it. I've explicitly told her that it is a waste of time and we aren't changing our views but it doesn't help....
Oh, I can sympathize... though no one would ever dream of suggesting that we put our pets up for adoption, my mother does the same thing with makeup and clothes. I haven't worn makeup since my early 20s, but she persists in giving me gifts of makeup, anti-aging potions, and whatnot, plus clothes that frankly are too frou-frou for me, and is deaf to my protests.
Ugh. So wasteful, too!

And thanks for keeping your pets, I wonder what on earth she's thinking that you and your husband would give them up just because they are slightly inconvenient?
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Old 05-25-2016, 02:17 PM   #18
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I can almost always find something that I agree with my companion of the moment on. I steer toward that and leave well enough alone.

(libertarian agnostic with admiration for judeo-christian religions (and the religious) and their overall beneficial impact on western civilization both today and historically; if I search for it, I can always find ways to antagonize, or not, just about anyone!)
+2

Yes I like this too.

Live and let live with a good helping of the Golden Rule.

On the three hour drive from the cottage last week DW and I were discussing religion and with the help of Wiki came to the conclusion that I was probably more a Quaker than an agnostic or perhaps some mash up of both. Yesterday in my volunteer role we were having a small group discussion with the students about 'The Role of Spirituality in Medicine' after a simply wonderful poly-denominational lecture from a hospital chaplain. It was a great discussion but sadly for the life of me, when we went around the table discussing our beliefs I couldn't remember that I was a Quaker! So I just stuck with the Golden Rule and Stephen Grellet.
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Old 05-25-2016, 02:38 PM   #19
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My sister - who I am very close to - disagree about religion. We have respect for each other - so we've discussed it at length (long theological and scientific discussions of pretty significant depth.) We still manage to love and respect each other, despite this significant difference of perspective. That said - she's probably the only person who I can delve that deeply into such an emotionally charged topic.

I have friends with differing politics... we don't discuss them. I have extended family and in-laws that have expressed racist comments.... on those - I call them out - then change the subject. Same with any other intolerant statement.

With facebook - it's pretty easy to lower someone's priority/friendship level so their stuff doesn't show up on your feed. I've done that with a few high school friends....

And - on the internet (here, facebook, etc) there's always virtual ignore... You know where you just scroll past - refusing to engage.
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Old 05-25-2016, 02:44 PM   #20
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..............
With facebook - it's pretty easy to lower someone's priority/friendship level so their stuff doesn't show up on your feed. I've done that with a few high school friends..............
My step daughter and her husband have gone crazy over a presidential candidate and when they ignored my pleas not to post political (or religious) stuff on Facebook, I put them on mute. I'll turn them back on in mid-November, if it is safe.
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