Like everyone probably has, I lost a friend who didn’t agree with something I posted on social media. He took offense to some silly thing I had shared and didn’t appreciate my explanation as to why I did it. He countered with an argument that because I didn’t agree with him, I was no longer his friend.
This was years ago. Before this happened, I counted him almost as a brother and had plenty of differences of opinion with him before where we either agreed to disagree or were able to get the other to see our own point of view. So I was mystified as to why he suddenly though I was “bad” when I did the same kind of discussion with him I had countless times before. Every argument before this, we always ended up getting to know each other better. Maybe that argument was, metaphorically speaking, the straw that broke the camel’s back? Or perhaps he just didn’t want to be friends any longer.
Losing his friendship hurt. It still does when I have time to sit and think about it.
I’ve lost other friends the same way, though these friends were not as close to me. They don’t like the way I typed something on social media or that I don’t discuss certain topics face to face that are personal to me. They expect me to see their point or just scroll past their stuff if I don’t like it but don’t want to even hear mine or nitpick everything I post. They get on soapboxes about stuff that I don’t have a personal connection to and then when I just don’t have an opinion because it’s not something in my purview, they get mad at me.
When did we get to a point as a society where we think that people who may not agree with everything we agree with as “bad” and those that agree with our ideology as “good”? Why do we only seek out only those who may have the same values as ourselves? Why can’t we challenge ourselves to have friends, family, acquaintances etc. that may challenge us with their own views and maybe let us grow?
And why is it that the hardest words in the English language are “I was wrong. I am sorry”?
I like to debate on occasion, but I also have learned to pick my battles. Sometimes, I like the challenge of getting others to see my point and then reflecting on their points as well. Sometimes, I also change my mind on things, whereas other times, I reinforce the ideas in my head. And while I will admit that I am not open-minded on every single subject, I do try to keep an open mind as much as possible about things. Lately, I have tried to learn and understand where people are coming from when I can. I try to let people live and let live, as long as the way they are living and let living doesn’t disrupt the physical safety of others. I try to also be the light and love that I know the world needs to see.
But age and experience have helped to make me that way. I hope I never become too set in my ways that I can’t understand another’s point of view.
Granted, sometimes people just drift away, their ideals in life no longer meshing with the ones you have. But sometimes, is it worth it to lose friendships and family members over petty differences? Is it worth it to divide into the “us versus them” mentality? When did compromise become so loathsome? When did the give and take of a relationship become “I want to take what’s mine but not give you anything”?
I need people in my life that challenge me. If I only associate with people who validate everything I say or do or believe in, then I know I don’t grow as a human being. I know if I stick to people who only think the same exact way I do, I don’t learn to see other points of views. If I block people on social media who may have a differing viewpoint, I don’t learn to accept the way others may think or feel about things. If I keep only to like-minded people, I don’t learn to compromise and I don’t learn to accept the ways the world changes. I would stagnate if I didn’t learn new ways of thinking and doing and understanding.
Before anyone goes on to argue that “agree to disagree” means tolerating hateful or hurtful speech, I don’t believe it does. I don’t tolerate bullies. I don’t tolerate people who use words or actions to tear other down. What I tolerate is that not everyone is coming from the same path that I tread and I have to meet them with some sort of love and understanding if I want them to see my point. Sometimes, I see others’ points and just totally think the point is wrong, but I have been learning to accept that I can’t change their view in the heat of the moment. I can still love them and try my best to understand them anyway. Why can’t we learn to agree to disagree on things and still find some common ground with each other?
It’s okay to have strong views on something. It’s okay to feel like those views are your life. But what’s not okay is to tell others that they have to have the same exact views about something or else. It’s not okay to say you promote tolerance and then shut out people who may be different than you because they are still human. They still deserve love and tolerance. We all deserve to be accepted and loved and quite possibly, this love and acceptance will change the world.
Dear readers, I’m a dreamer and this all is part of the hope I carry for the future world. In the words of John Lennon:
They may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.~ John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, “Imagine”
Imagine what would happen if we could all just learn to find some common ground and some compassion for each other.
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