Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It is a good day. I have spent the last couple of days talking about life kinds of things and continue that trend by sharing a few thoughts about friendship, politics, and religion.

I have read a number of articles recently that addressed the growing political divide in the country and one of the commonly cited factors are that a growing number of Americans now pick their friends based on politics, religion, and ideology. That reminded me of Thomas Jefferson who once noted, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

Sadly, I have lost friends for these very reasons and every one of them saddened me. In most cases I was not the one that broke off the friendship. Now there have been a couple of times where the relationship had grown so toxic that I had to break it off to in order not end up in the position of hating the person, and to protect myself. But those cases have been few and far between. I think that I can count them on one hand.

I have friends that span the political, ideological, religious, ethnic and racial, and even sexual orientation spectrum. Hell, I even count Los Angeles Dodger’s and New York Yankee’s fans among my friends, and that coming from a diehard San Francisco Giant and Baltimore Orioles fan is truly exceptional.

I guess that most of why I am like this is because I loved the diversity that I experienced at Edison High School in Stockton, California, which I went to because of court-ordered desegregation, and close to thirty-five years of military service. In both cases I got to experience the friendship, in many cases lifelong friendships with people whose experience, culture, and backgrounds were very different from mine. This has enriched me as a human being. 

Today, my closest friends are those that I hang out at my local Gordon Biersch Brewery bar, and the local ballpark. They span the spectrum from the most liberal and progressive Bernie supporters to most devoted supporters of Donald Trump, not to mention mainline liberals and conservatives, Libertarians, Greens, as well as Social Conservatives and members of the Christian Right.

The same is true of my social media, both Facebook and Twitter. I do not have to agree with someone to respect them, care about them, and be a friend. I personally don’t understand how anyone can only hang out with people that are like them, frankly that to me sounds boring. I don’t mind exchanging ideas with friends, but I do get put off by ideologues of all beliefs who care nothing for anything but their agenda. I am not adverse to people having strong beliefs, but to impose them as a condition of friendship is beyond me.

My friends know my beliefs. They know that I am liberal, and a proponent of expanding civil rights, and against any law that is written expressly to deny the rights of others purely for the sake of religion. But that being said I don’t need to impose them as a condition of friendship. I gain so much by the multitude of people that are my friends, their real diversity in all things. I cannot imagine doing anything to intentionally lose any of their friendship this political season.

It’s just my opinion, but I think that we would all be better off to try to do the same this year and build bridges. I think instead of condemning people we don’t know just because they are different that we should take the time to get to know them and become friends that we could actually work together, solve our problems, and heal our wounds. 

But then maybe I am too much of a relic of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Maybe, to use the immortal words of John Lennon “I’m just a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope one day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.” 

So anyway, have a great weekend.


Padre Steve+



1 Comment

Filed under News and current events, philosophy, Political Commentary

One response to “Why Can’t We Be Friends?

  1. Pinky

    I have been actually wondering about this for the past few years. I went to a performing arts high school and many of my long term friends are from there. Performing artists tend to accept each other regardless of beliefs or it used to be that way.
    I had a long term friend unfriend me because he thought I was a Republican because I am a Christian. Ridiculous!
    I am not a Republican or Democrat.
    I am just me. But people get crazy if you don’t 100% agree with them these days. I just don’t get it.
    Nobody 100% agrees with anyone! NOBODY!
    That means everyone is lying or deluded!
    It is really just self love and insecurity IMO that makes people this way.
    But I have been trying to understand if it was just my perception or if it really was easier to stay friends in the 70.s.
    Now that I read your blog I realize now it was. This whole idea if you disagree with someone or don’t know if you agree even you are a hater is insane!
    People are not allowed to think now just agree or else they will be attacked!
    I am only using my friend as an example. I have been thinking about this issue for a long time.
    Maybe those attitudes were always around but FB just brought them out I don’t know. But it does seem that staying friends was easier in the 70’s.
    On the other side my Christian friends regularly unfriend me when they realize I have Lesbian and gay friends and transgender friends.
    So do they they just don’t realize it!
    Thanks for this thought provoking article!
    It is easy for me to respect those I disagree with and easy for me to respect those I don’t even know if I agree or disagree with.
    It is not important t me to have an opinion on everything!
    Some things I don’t consider myself or all of humanity qualify to judge. speaking of which all of the people who get crazy over those they think are judging them are actually more judgemental!
    Its like I am judging you because you are judgemental! UGH!
    Regardless no politician is going to change the present angry climate in America. The other side will always demonize the party they disagree with.
    Only he who created souls can unite them!

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