Why Can’t We Be Friends?

During the Singapore study tour I made friends with two guys.  They study politics and law. They live in Adelaide.  Oh, and they’re Liberals (conservatives for my US friends out there).

Would that stop you from being friends with them?

Or an alternate scenario.  I have a friend from NaNoWriMo.  She’s hilarious. We both went on exchange. We both study politics.  Oh, and she’s on ‘the left’.

Would that stop you from being friends with her?

I know a lot of people with rather strong political views who have a policy of defriending people on Facebook (and in real life) who express views that contradict their own.  Whether this be views on who should be leader of Australia, whether or not Australia should let in more refugees, what languages should be taught in schools, whether Adam Goodes is a good bloke (yes, that is political in Australia), even whether or not Christmas is ‘politically correct’.  Say the wrong thing, like the wrong post, troll the wrong person, and you can be unfriended faster than you can say ‘we don’t have to agree on everything’.

For lots of people these days, it seems being friends with people who hold different opinions is discouraged.  Why have enthusiastic dinner time debate when you can all nod your heads and agree with each other?  Why engage with ideas that you haven’t considered before when you can remain in your safe space forever?

Now I’m not saying that everyone has to be friends.  A Marxist and a Fascist, for example, might struggle.  And obviously it’s nice to have friends who share your political views, or at least a few of them.

But honestly, there are worse things than to disagree with some of your friends’ political views.

Perhaps it’s because I don’t really align myself with either side of Australian politics, nor have a felt the need to.  I’m not a conservative, but I’m also not a SWJ, or even really a ‘lefty’.  I sit pretty central, in the scheme of things. I have my political opinions, and I’m happy to share them, but I also won’t let them define who I’m going to keep in my life and be friends with.

And I’d hope that my friends, however politically opinionated they may be, would feel the same way.

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