One of the things I was impressed with in this last presidential election is how badly people behaved toward those they disagreed with. Old friends would turn into spiteful enemies when talking about presidential candidates, almost as if possessed by demons (I say this mostly facetiously). It was remarkable how unchristlike people became when they felt passionately about something.
Part of the blame could probably be laid at the feet of the cable news shows, where the style of argument seems to consist of 1) belittling, dismissing and dehumanizing those you disagree with, 2) yelling louder than the other guy, 3) interrupting constantly and not actually listening to what the other person is saying.
The Internet Monk has a great post about some of these issues, the best part of which was near the end, where he laid out a picture of Jesus argued and disagreed with the Pharisees in the gospels (Matthew 23 notwithstanding, which I can trust Jesus to say, but probably not myself):
Did you ever notice how Jesus deals with those he has serious disagreements with?
Those Pharisees? Jesus had a lot in common with them. But at some of
those key points, there was serious division and disagreement.
So watch Jesus. Do what he does. Don’t do what Jesus doesn’t do.
He interacts with the Pharisees. He doesn’t avoid them.
He lets them finish their sentences.
He doesn’t yell at them.
He asks good, subversive, insightful questions.
He tells stories.
His “points” are simple and on target.
He understands how these differences arise, i.e. out of methodology or values.
He never compromises.
He leaves the conversation in the hands of the Holy Spirit.
We could probably stand to learn something from Jesus about how to talk with those we disagree with. (Go figure! Learning something from Jesus!)