Reading about Helen Gurley Brown’s death today inspired the following post. (No matter your opinion of Ms. Brown and her positions on social issues–she was the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years and wore mini-skirts into her 80’s, according to the New York Times–she stirred discussion.)
A discussion does not happen when everyone agrees from the beginning. The agreement may come after an intense exchange of ideas and airing of differences. No matter the outcome, we tend to remember the people we disagree with most–even years later, when we no longer encounter that person, we can often recall the details of the exchange. We need those people to test our thinking, to force us to become exact in our opinions or convincing of our argument. Their crafty, clever refutes of our logic, force us to think deeper and be innovative to defend our thinking. (Or in retreat, at least we were able to let go of opinions or values that no longer make sense–although with a bit of a bruised ego and possibly begrudgingly let go.) Those folks who “stir up the hornets’ nest” every once in awhile can be our “frenemies” so to speak–the people we love to hate and hate to love.