Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day 14 - Disagreeing with respect

I'm reading Chandra, a biography of S.Chandrasekhar by Kameshwar C Wali  [I recommend it highly, even if you don't understand astrophysics.  It is an absorbing story of the life of a great man.]

One of the most striking incidents in Chandra's life is when, as a young scientist, he derived a theory that was publicly ridiculed by Arthur Eddington. The theory was ultimately proven right after decades, and Chandra was awarded the Nobel Prize for this work.  But at that time, as a twenty-four year old in a foreign land, he was deeply upset and frustrated by Eddington's reaction.  Though Eddington's arguments were not valid at all, he was such an authority that none of the other astrophysicists even bothered to go into Chandra's studies and confirm who was right.  Those who did, agreed with Chandra privately, but didn't take a public stand.  So Chandra had to take the decision to abandon his exciting new discovery and concentrate on something else, because a cloud had been cast upon his work, and in that environment, he knew he wouldn't be able to progress.

You and I cannot possibly understand the level of his disappointment, but yet - Eddington and Chandra remained friends, dining together, going on picnics and bicycle rides together.  Chandra's letters show how deeply upset he was by Eddington's actions, and yet, he set professional discord aside and stayed friendly with Eddington on a personal level.  I can only marvel at this.

Ever so often, we are drawn into disagreements over minor things, and I've seen people take these disagreements personally, and things spiral out of control and degenerate into bitterness and name-calling.  I'm pretty sure you've all been in at least one such argument.  I know people who are afraid to disagree with people because they're afraid it'll break their friendship.  This is so sad!

I  personally welcome differences of opinion and disagreements, because it usually provides me with an entirely different POV.  But I'm very hesitant to start disagreeing with certain people because I cannot handle the venom that comes with it.  Hello, I'm disagreeing with your views, not your self!

My friend M and I have had such interesting conversations over our differences of opinion, with both of us putting across our points of views, and noting the other's view, and not taking it personally.  And at the end of the discussion, we still stuck with our personal opinions, but we knew why the other thought her way, and that was okay with both of us.   It was such a refreshing change that I remember actually thanking her!

If you're reading this, and if you're the kind who takes differences of opinions personally, please loosen up.  You'll benefit from it!


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you, differences are what make life interesting. expressing one's opinion and opening up a debate can strengthen relationships. One has to be fearless and less-fake to accept this. It should not be mistaken as vindictiveness.

Felt good to read your post, it is one of those moments when you feel, " ah, well, there is one more person who feels this way. " :-)

Good post Shruthi. Very well written.

Jayashree Atte

Shruthi said...

Thank you, Jayashree atte!

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