Ya know I surround myself with people of many different beliefs. Although generally the sets of very core values tend to be similar, some of the beliefs and how these core values manifest tend to greatly differ. I have atheist and theist friends. I have feminist, liberal, socialist friends and I have conservative, constitutionalist, and libertarian friends. I have friends who have very particularly views on how definitions work and some who are more in agreement with me. People who think video games do or don’t have certain affects on people. People who have particular views on how belief affects the world… the list goes on and on
And a lot of the times… my “Radical” or “Extremist” views will clash with this huge diversity of people. I’m very big on correcting things when I think they’re wrong. I’m also very open-minded on hearing things explaining why I’m wrong, even if in the end I don’t buy it. But I’ll get into a discussions very easily and often find clashing views on things. Now certainly, depending on the situation, i’m likely to just… not get into a discussion. But sometimes, the discussion happens and…. the person burns the bridge with me, deciding that this difference in ideals is so great that they CANNOT be friend.
So it’d be easy to say this person is a horrible person or something around the lines of bad friend…. but let’s first look at the extremes:
Let’s look at the least extreme.Someone doesn’t like the same taste in something as you do. Same taste in music, same taste in food. There’s no philosophical difference that separates you two on a mental stand point, this simple is subjective and often times (hard to know with every case) is a biological or psychological difference that doesn’t really reflect you as a person in a fundamental value sort of way. Anyone throwing you out as a friend in this sense is easily a bad friend. Now certainly, there are contexts where other factors could be put in… like how they communicate it and stuff. Let’s say however, everything was communicated politely and non-aggressively. Yes, this person is a bad friend.
Now the other extreme, the most different someone could be. Let’s say someone’s values are so intrinsically different they think… that killing people is okay. I’m not talking about the abortion debate. Like let’s say someone is saying that it’s perfectly acceptable to kill someone if you want something from them. This might be a little far fetched so let’s say…. they think that beating your spouse is acceptable. This person thinks beating their spouse is acceptable and you disagrere with this. Would you be a bad friend for leaving the friendship? Yes. There is no context where this isn’t so fundamentally offensive that you could justify this. At least for me.
So, now we got our spectrum. On one end we’re extremely critical of the person ending the friendship. On the other we’re completely sympathetic. So, what about…. more realistic situations. Let’s say…. someone doesn’t like my political outlook. This isn’t such a fundamentally different value that you really should feel so offended. One person believes in free health care is the most compassionate and another person believes private charity is more compassionate. In the end though… both people are for helping people. This difference SHOULD NOT get in the way of friendship. If you let something like this break your friendship, then you’re basically showing that the manifestation of your values are more important than the friendship. You really need to ask yourself if you’re disagreeing at the core what’s important, regardless of the implementation and how the two people think the outcomes will come about. Not only does this help preserve perfectly good friendships, but if you’re thinking like this you’re much more likely to UNDERSTAND their argument and well… understand the issue as a whole better. It makes you better prepared to debate about it.
So, the reason i put this up was i recently had a friend take me off facebook. He’s part of a movement I used to be a part of, but have grown distant from I still have a lot of the core concepts in agreement with him, but for I’ve decided the outcome of the solutions to the problems are less than ideal. And when he posted stuff I very politely disagreed with him and explained why. Then I was unfriended. It’s hard to feel anything but a great deal of disappointment when people put the manifestation of their ideals before the ideals themselves.
I suggest to focus on what you have in common and focus on some common core set’s of values, because it can remind you that even though your solutions might be as different as it gets… that doesn’t mean the core values are.