We can’t all be friends

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We can’t all be friends

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In grade school, when the only opinions that we hold have to do with boy band members and ice cream flavors, it’s remarkably easy to be friends with everyone.

In college, well… not so much.

Suddenly, everyone has an opinion on everything, and everyone believes their opinion to be the only one that is right. It’s gotten to the point where discussions of politics are seen as impolite, simply because they aren’t entirely productive. Everyone is so cemented in their ways that it’s hard to bridge mutual understanding without causing someone to feel as if they have to make a moral compromise.

My Facebook feed is always littered with posts claiming that you can, indeed, be friends with people that have differing political opinions than yours. Many say that to cut someone off for what they believe is immature, rude and disrespectful. While I believe in civility, attempting to find common ground and treating everyone’s viewpoint with introspective empathy, I find it fairly challenging to be friends with people that are across the spectrum from me politically.

The way that someone votes can tell you a lot about their character and their values—which just happen to be the very aspects of a person that we evaluate to find out if we’re compatible.

I know that I speak for more than just myself when I claim that my political opinions are direct reflections of my heart. I believe in love; therefore, I believe in marriage equality. I believe in equality; therefore, I believe in civil rights and feminism. I believe in bodily autonomy; therefore, I believe in the pro-choice movement. I believe in freedom of worship; therefore, I believe in the separation of church and state.

Politics are not separate from the person engaging in them, they are a fully functioning part of the mind and soul that guide us towards the creation of a world which we would be proud to live in.

It’s absurd to say that someone’s political opinions have no weight on their overall identity. In reality, it is our political opinions that dictate our interactions with the world, and therefore, the way that we treat each other.

I’m easily able to dig out the aspects of life that are the most important to them after just one discussion about politics. The fiscally conservative tend to value hard work and self-discipline, the socialists tend to value understanding and giving. Those opposed to gay marriage and abortion might use their religious experiences as the breeding grounds for their thoughts, whereas those that are proponents of them may be reliant on more personal experiences and connections.

We need to stop acting as if politics are separate from the person speaking about them. These conversations are vital to understanding one another, and we can learn so much simply by listening. It is okay to distance yourself from friends with differing opinions, however, if their ideals directly oppose your personal moral code. We should continue the discussion between Republicans, Democrats and everyone in between instead of keeping quiet for the sake of maintaining a bond.

I do, quite frankly, lose respect and affection for a person when I learn that they believe in the restriction of or infringement upon basic human rights. To me, all people are equally worthy of a safe, healthy and happy life. When someone contradicts that opinion that is so dear to me, I certainly maintain cordiality and attempt to understand what led them to feel that way, but I know deep down that I could never grow close to someone that hates my innermost love.

That’s OK.

Maybe we can’t all be friends, but we can all be friendly, and we can share a mutual admiration for all who speak their truth, no matter what the words are that flow out.