18/May/2009 Filed in: Jottings
Some unexpected visitors put paid to yesterday's podcast, so there will be a lull now until we resume in a fortnight's time. The report of President Obama's speech at Notre Dame reminded me how important it is to disagree agreeably. I sometimes think it is a lost art. My grandmother's generation would have taken a sombre view of behaviour that is now commonplace. I can hear her saying to an obnoxious grandchild (me), "No matter how passionately one feels, there is no excuse for bad manners". Civilised debate is meant to be precisely that: civilised. It means listening even when we don't like what we hear. It means trying to follow another's argument, even when we find the argument confused or confusing. I disagree with Obama's views on abortion but I think he made a good case for disagreeing agreeably; and when we can do that, there is hope for change.