Yes & No

When I was in middle school – I remember this quite clearly – we were debating an issue of some importance in class.

The teacher called on me to weigh in. After a pause, I responded “Hmm, I’m not sure. I can see both sides of the issue.”

That, apparently, was not an acceptable answer.

The teacher called me wishy-washy. Said I had to make up my mind.As if understanding multiple positions wasn’t a position itself.

So I tend to notice when people apologize for simultaneously agreeing and disagreeing. It’s a pretty common phenomenon.

Not just the simultaneous agreeing and disagreeing, but specifically apologizing for it. I guess I’m not the only one who received life lessons that this was less than desirable behavior.

Of course, I still do it anyway.

I’m not sure if the ideal is to become some overly-decisive executive who can make split second decisions and stand by them with firm faith.Or perhaps the idea is that for any issue one could easily measure the pros and cons and thereby come to some decisive analytical solution.Or perhaps it’s a general discomfort with the existence of uncertainty. I’m not sure.

But whatever has given “agreeing and disagreeing” a bad reputation – there’s not even a positive word for this that I can think of – I firmly agree that it’s a perfectly fine thing to do. It may even be a good thing to do.

I wouldn’t want to become so paralyzed so as to be unable to make decisions in my day-to-day life. But for big, tough, complex questions…the answer just isn’t as simple as a toggle between A or B. It may not even be as simple as a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

Contrasting believes and opinions can be opposing but equally true and valid. There isn’t always a single side to fall down on.

So, stop apologizing for this. Don’t call it a cop out, or wishy-washy, or waffling, or any of the other half dozen demeaning names you might think of.

Say it with pride – I agree AND disagree, because this is a complex issue and I won’t conform myself to your narrow constructions.

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