OPINION: The art of disagreeing

I disagree. Two words that can be difficult to hear as they are typically followed by a challenge to our views. But disagreement, considering alternative arguments, and refining our position expands our perspective, deepens our understanding, strengthens our relationships, and should always seek to improve the world we live in. Take the future of Kirkcaldy High Street, I’ve heard lots of different takes on how we make a success of our town centre – that’s healthy, no one has all the answers and I certainly don’t have a monopoly on ideas.


As the friendly debate over a pint fades into the past, it’s being replaced by increasingly embittered exchanges on social media. We now live in an age where groups judge one another morally depending on their stance on specific policy details.

That’s why I’ve met with lots of different people – local shop owners, residents, investors, councillors and council officers – to listen and get a clear idea of how I can best support the future of our town centre. There’s lots of good will, cracking ideas and energetic spirit in our town. We’re making real progress because folk have put aside political differences finding ways to disagree constructively.

Just last week I had a frank exchange of words in the Fife Free Press with a local Tory councillor. She had criticised the pace of Covid-vaccine rollout in Fife. I was frustrated by her argument – after all, at the time of that debate 31,000 of our friends, family, and neighbours had already received a dose. That’s before we mention the thirteen new vaccine centres that began to be phased in across Fife last week.

And while we might disagree, that councillor is entitled to her opinion, right to voice it and, on reflection, I do understand those concerns. We all want the vaccine rollout to accelerate. We’re all desperate for reassurance, to feel like we’re in the endgame of this pandemic.

The problem is that disagreeing in this spirit is a dying art.

Folk disagree on a host of political issues, from the big constitutional question to local taxation, immigration to women’s rights. But as the friendly debate over a pint fades into the past, it’s being replaced by increasingly embittered exchanges on social media. We now live in an age where groups judge one another morally depending on their stance on specific policy details. It is a time of hubris, defamation, echo chambers and filtered news, a time when we don’t just have our own opinions, but our own “facts”. This polarisation helps nobody.

So, let’s all reacquaint ourselves with the noble art of disagreeing – talking less and listening more. And be kind and considerate of others views and concerns.

43 views0 comments