Disagreeableness Is a Part of Sincerity
The word ‘sincerity’ has a warm glow around it. Generally, it’s assumed that being sincere is equivalent to being openhearted, naked in your affection, warmly vulnerable. And this is true, in part; many of us go around with a great deal of love that we hide for fear of rejection, and releasing it is often valuable.
But errors are also made in the other direction, often by people who are kind. For fear of rejection, we omit strong statements of preference and clear declarations of value that might alienate others. We fear to mention the mediocrity of the fancy dinner we’ve ordered together, or which entire continents we feel we don't have to visit, or inconvenient desires that might impinge on those of another.
Generally, there is something to be said for keeping communication positive. But this can get pathological. I’ve known people who say they don’t judge anybody, or who profess extreme epistemic humility, to the point where they constantly affirm that they don’t really care about their own opinions. I don’t believe them?
Unless your experience is that every state of human affairs is perfectly equivalent, you hold some values dear and not others, and that entails a certain degree of negativity. All recognizably human forms of meaning-making involve partiality. Specificity is where we display our commitments, which is to say, where we open ourselves to conflict.
Disagreeability is part of sincerity, too. And to trust someone with your disagreeable truths is to respect them. It assumes that they’re an adult who can take it. Just like sharing the abundance of your heart, divulging the presence of your thicker humors is a wager made in service of a greater degree of mutual knowledge. My brother is a strict Protestant who often tells me that I’m doing it all wrong, in so many words, on account of my un-Christian lifestyle. His willingness to share his judgement makes me more assured of his love and admiration when those are what he's sharing.
If I’ve written something that’s at all oriented towards the making of claims, and there’s nothing in it that could strongly rankle someone, I’m probably being cowardly. Being cowardly is tactically reasonable occasionally. But as a whole-life strategy, it is soul-eroding. And it’s certainly not sincere, nor, even, really, compassionate.