Social Issues

When to end a friendship over politics

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Would your family have hidden mine from the Nazis?

I kid you not, I asked this question of my friends when I was a child. It was the ultimate gauge to see if they were truly good people (thankfully, they all said yes, they would have hidden me, but many of them didn’t even know what Nazis were. Not a common talking point for six-year-olds).

In a roundabout way, that question has reappeared in my head as I determine which of my current relationships are healthy enough to keep growing, and which ones it’s time to let go of.

Do you think it’s okay for the president to call Neo Nazis “very fine people”?

Does it concern you that Trump has major appeal in hate groups like the KKK?

Does it bother you that he referred to countries of brown people as “shitholes”?

I’ve been at a loss, wondering what to do about the people in my life who give disturbing answers to the questions above, but also helped me and my husband out when he unexpectedly lost his job. These are people who are always quick to lend a hand, offer hugs, and watch my cats while we’re on vacation.

And yet, their politics and the things they were and are willing to tolerate to get that pro-life Supreme Court justice are simply…well, deplorable.

Does this mean I can’t be friends with conservatives and Republicans anymore? Do I immediately lose trust and respect for anyone who still aligns with that party?

I don’t want to live in an echo chamber. I don’t want to isolate myself from everyone who thinks differently than I do. But I know I need to set up some boundaries.

I’ve been praying about this. Here are some of the answers I’ve found:

I want to maintain the friendships with the people who helped me when I desperately needed it. Maybe we’ll never be best friends, but I don’t feel a need to push them out of my life right now. These are the people who explained to me that they basically voted for Trump while holding their noses. I don’t agree with their reasoning — but I understand it, somewhat.

Conversely, there have been people in my life who heard “Make America Great Again” and said, “That sounds great — tell me more!” They continue to excuse the same behavior that got Clinton impeached. And any time a liberal politely disagrees with them, they get dismissed as butt-hurt snowflakes.

These are the people who look at pictures of refugee families and say, “Well, they should have just followed the law,” but don’t care to research the stories that make “following the law” rather difficult, if not impossible in some circumstances.

These are the people who don’t take rape accusations seriously, who think this is a “scary time” for men, because false accusations are so rampant. But they dismiss the fact that black men have been saying this for decades and still get killed for crimes they did not commit.

I have plenty of other examples, but you get the idea.

I don’t have any guilt about weeding out the people who have shown themselves to be devoid of empathy. That’s where I draw the line. I would read their Facebook posts and feel my blood pressure rapidly increase. I would politely push back on some of their ideas, and be met with accusations of persecution.

In the end, I reasoned that any relationship that comes at the expense of your mental health is not worth it.

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2 thoughts on “When to end a friendship over politics”

  1. I imagine I would not end a friendship, relationship or acquaintance over politics or religion, especially if other redeeming qualities remained that inspired the relationship in the first place. If politics (or religion) became an issue, like we heatedly argued most of the time, I would contemplate ending the friendship. Also, I find that I generally disagree with folks about many important things, so I would be nearly friendless if I needed agreement on the great questions of life.

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