Curiosity Over Contempt Or Concession

The opposite of contempt is not concession, but curiosity.

When we disagree with someone, whether a family member, friend, or stranger, it is not necessary that we do so with negativity attached to it. It is quite possible to disagree with others, even passionately, while maintaining our own integrity and not allowing ourselves to slip into the mire of frustration, anger, or contempt. There is no use, after all, of becoming that which we do not like or do not agree with in the process of expressing our dislike or disagreement.

Of all human emotions, the one that is least desirable, just outside of pure hatred itself, is contempt. Once we have contempt for a person or an idea, we have shut ourselves off completely to the possibility of compassion or understanding. In order to remain open, effective, and useful, we must understand that contempt is a dead end path from which it is difficult to return to our own humanity.

We need not concede our position or our perspective in order to avoid the trap of contempt, however. Some ideas, and even some people, are not worth entertaining or interacting with, and they are certainly not worth agreeing with because, whether we like it or not, ignorance and evil exist in the world and they are close relatives. By remaining curious, by trying to understand how and why a person or an idea came to be the way that it is, and by using this knowledge and understanding to grow and become more effective at the positive change we want to create in the world, we are able to maintain our humanity and integrity even in the process of disagreement.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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