It was Marvin J. Ashton
who said, “How important it is to know how to disagree without
being disagreeable.” It was many years ago when I heard him
teach this brilliant concept.
We live in a pretty
contentious world. People fan the flames of argument and conflict —
sometimes subconsciously, but often purposely. Social media rages
with controversial posts and tweets. Some of them are true, many
aren’t, and a great number have a fleck of truth, but are
twisted or turned to make a point — one to stir the pot.
I love Facebook, to
tell you the truth, but I am careful about whose posts I continue to
allow in my feed. There is enough strife and there are enough
problems in this world without creating more. Sheesh!
Satan loves it, don’t
you think? To keep us preoccupied with disagreement and upset, he can
keep us from the peace we say we’re seeking. That ugly, dark
stirring of conflict disallows the Holy Spirit from being with us.
The time we could be using in positive, unifying ways is wasted on
Would it not be
wonderful if we sought for what was right, and not who was right? If
we laid aside our pride, and were open to learning more so that we
aren’t so pulled in by the arguing stretch of taffy that keeps
some people so high-strung?
There are two
scriptures that pop into my mind when I come across a mean-spirited
comment in the news or social media of any sort. I admit, it’s
a little harder when someone I know and care about is standing right
in front of me, but still — when I remember — I am much
less prone to get sucked into some silly debate:
Nephi 11:29 — “He that hath the
spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the
father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend
with anger, one with another.”
13:10 — “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the
well advised is wisdom.”
President Ezra Taft
Benson counseled that contention is one of the forms of pride. This
“form of pride” tears apart couples, families, and rages
throughout the world.
Sometimes, I wish I
could be a little girl again, running along the beach in Kauai with
my mom and dad, picking fresh tropical fruit from our very own yard,
living in a very small and loving community of folks who were all
friends. The kind of friends who would listen with love, and think
And let me tell you, if
I were to speak disagreeably to my parents, there would be
consequences! I’d best keep my disagreeing to myself —
until I figured out that they were right, anyway. And they
Maybe those days are long past, and we can only work at
finding the goodness and peace we yearn for by practicing carefully
and wholly in our homes. That would mean we need to keep it in our
mind always, and in our heart clearly and powerfully. Then, we
would be more prone to acting upon these words from Elder Neal A.
Maxwell: “Letting off steam produces more heat than light.”
That one makes me smile!
I remember hearing,
“Small minds discuss people. Average minds discuss things.
Great minds discuss ideas.” Eleanor Roosevelt, thank you for
these wise words! We can add to that, or interpret that however it
best speaks to us. It’s sure to allow us to work at being
great-minded, don’t you think? At letting peace begin with us?
With biting the tongue instead of snapping back with negativity?
Yes, in a world of
confusion and contention, we can be more agreeable, at the least, I
believe. And that’s a good thing. And goodness matters!
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, teacher, author, and songwriter. Her
undergraduate study at BYU was musical theater. She has a Masters degree in interpersonal
A Billboard award-winning songwriter with hundreds of songs to her credit, she uses music as a
teaching tool. But her favorite way to use music has been to sing to her children. You should
hear the family's rousing versions of "Happy Birthday"!
In addition to three solo albums in the LDS market, she co-wrote "Women at the Well" with
Kenneth Cope and "My Beloved Christ: with Randy Kartchner. She is co-writer of the theme
song for Utah's Make-A-Wish foundation, the song for the Special Olympics program, and
EFY's theme song.
She writes for several online magazines and columns, and has authored several books. Her
website, www.goodnessmatters.com, is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world,
pointing people gently toward Christ and eternal principles of truth.
She has spoken for the Church's various Youth and Family programs for 25 years. She and her
husband Dean have eight children and four grandchildren. She adores being a wife, mom and
grandmother. She loves flowers, brownies, cooking Italian and Southern foods, the ocean, and
laughing every chance she gets.
Vickey was baptized a member of the Church as a teenager in Virginia. She serves as gospel
doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves on their stake high council.