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.