I ended up in quite a heated argument with my brother-in-law the other day. There is a great point at the end that has nothing to do with Lord of the Rings, so even if you aren’t a fan, wade through. It should be worth your time. Here’s what happened:
I am a great fan of the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien — both the books and the movies. One difference between the books and the movies, I think, creeps in from the worldview of the screenwriters for the movies. I don’t think screenwriters Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh believe in nobility of character (or, at least, they don’t believe it plays well on screen).
Without getting taken up in an analysis of the entire movie, several characters who display what I would call a “noble character,” (they recognize their own limitations, sacrifice for greater good, won’t hurt people who aren’t an immediate threat to them, etc. Treebeard, Faramir and Aragorn, to name three for LOTR fans) are lowered so that their character is less noble.
My brother-in-law and I were arguing about this. He saw my point, but when I brought up the following scene, he said it wasn’t in the movie. I knew it was because it is so un-Aragorn that it sticks out like a sore thumb: Among the less-than-noble actions of the noble-in-the-book characters is a moment when after speaking for a few moments with an unarmed emissary from the dark lord, Sauron, Aragorn rides to the side of the emissary and lops off his head!
My brother-in-law said it never happened. I said it did. He said it didn’t. You get the picture.
There was only one solution: pull out the movie and check the scene. We did. He saw it. And he swore that he’d never seen it before. He’s got a great memory, so I believed him.
Then it dawned on us. We were watching the extended director’s cut and he had previously only seen the theatrical release. We were, in fact, both right!
Not all, but many of our disagreements can be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved if we are willing to take the time to be honest with others and respect their right to have a different viewpoint from ours.
We discovered how we were both right because we are each both honest about the truth as we saw it and also respected the other’s viewpoint. Instead of arguing or getting mad, we respectfully disagreed and continued to push the point until — lo and behold! — we found the source of the disagreement.
When you find yourself in a disagreement with someone, don’t just get in an argument with an eye toward winning, quickly swallow your opinion, or agree to disagree. Gently, lovingly push on the disagreement for a while. Why do you think that? How did you come to that conclusion? I really see things very differently from the way you do. I don’t think it happened that way at all. Ask the other person questions about how they came to their views rather than bringing up their parentage or questioning their standardized test scores. Speak for yourself about yourself.
The Bible gives us great wisdom for times of disagreement: “Speaking the truth in love we will grow up…” (Ephesians 4:15) No one has a corner on truth — it’s always to some degree “as we see it.” On the other hand, love is clearly defined in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous or boastful or rude or self-seeking…”
You may end up disagreeing still. But, speaking the truth in love, you might learn something. Speaking the truth in love, you both might come to a different opinion than the one with which you started. And, speaking the truth in love, you are much more likely to keep the relationship whole. And, who knows? You might both be right!