For as it is the opinion of philosophers, that could you take away strife and opposition out of the universe, all the heavenly bodies would stand still, generation and motion would cease in the mutual concord and agreement of all things, so the Spartan legislator (Agesilaus) seems to have admitted ambition and emulation among the ingredients of his commonwealth, as the incentives of virtue, distinctly wishing that there should be some dispute and competition among his men of worth, and pronouncing the mere idle, uncontested, mutual compliance to unproved deserts to be but a false sort of concord. And some think Homer had an eye to this when he introduces Agamemnon well pleased with the quarrel arising between Ulysses and Achilles, and with the “terrible words” that passed between them, which he would never have done, unless he had thought emulation and dissensions between the noblest men to be of great public benefit. Yet this maxim is not simply to be granted, without restriction, for if animosities go too far they are very dangerous to cities and of most pernicious consequence.

Agesilaus, (a king of Sparta, of the Eurypontid dynasty, whom Plutarch described as “as good as thought commander and king of all Greece”) on the virtue of dissent.

The practice of law is, at it’s heart, adversarial in nature. Dissent and debate are second nature to lawyers. Many say that the general contentiousness of lawyers lay at the heart of many problems in today’s world, or that involving lawyers in a situation exacerbates discord. However, too often people place a “happy face” on their problems and are politically correct in their desire for resolutions. The reality is that dissent, when properly managed and not allowed to become overwhelming, actually strengthens  the participants. When two participants on opposite sides of an issue argue and discourse they are forced to justify their own positions as well as attack their opponents, which in turn forces them to examine and grow in their understanding of the issue.

Persistent, false harmony leads to stagnation and weakness. Risk, challenge, and dissent lead to growth.

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