I have held off for some time from putting these thoughts out there for the entire world to see, as I fear it may upset certain people. But the time has come the open up this particular can of worms, if only to work through my own thoughts, and maybe help others in the same situation to work through theirs.
I recently read an article about ending friendships over differing political views and the conflicting fundamental values that those views have come to represent. I have always believed that politics should never come between family members or friends. But what if it isn’t really about politics anymore? What if it has to do with whether or not your understanding of humanity is still compatible with that of another?
One could argue that human decency and American political discourse have suffered because of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. New media outlets can certainly be beneficial to society in some ways, but it is through these that people often reveal themselves in ways that they never should. Since there is no face-to-face interaction or eye contact, there is often no immediate recognition that one is talking to or about other human beings. Not only has this caused young Millennials to post incriminating photos or information without regard for the potential long-term consequences, but it has made it easier for some people to be more open with their bigotry, hatred, and disrespect for others. After all, you’re only interacting with a keyboard and screen, right? You aren’t actually interacting with REAL people.
I am so saddened to be writing this, and despite my frustration with these old friends, I’m still desperately trying to hang on to the memory of who they used to be, because I truly value my friendships. Many of my friends who are now very angry, cruel people, were not this way when we became friends, but have allowed themselves to become this way due to deliberate ignorance and/or discontent over life’s difficulties. As the title poses, though, when is enough enough?
Is it posting a meme that quotes President Obama saying something that s/he disagrees with? Absolutely not. You don’t have to like the president’s policies. But a meme that depicts an inflatable Santa on a rooftop with a line of lights running down to “OBAMA” spelled out in lights in the yard, making it appear as though Santa is urinating on the president? Or another that features former President Clinton with President Obama off to the side, and the message “I just wanted a blowjob, he wants to fuck you all?” I find it difficult to remain friends with people who find these funny, though I have thus far.
How about when someone makes a statement about how we should reform our welfare system to make it more “fraud-proof?” That’s a perfectly acceptable thing to say. But a blanket statement that calls people on public assistance “deadbeats” or “takers,” and implies that you would rather see children starve than give assistance to their “lazy” parents? This is unacceptable and downright cringeworthy.
And finally, posting your opinion that we need comprehensive immigration reform, whether or not you think it should involve amnesty…okay. Posting that the “illegal Mexicans are sucking our welfare system dry and should be rounded up like cattle and sent home because this is America and we speak English,” or something of the like…not okay. No human being should be treated like an animal, regardless of status, and I am having a hard time remaining friends with people who have no respect for other human beings.
I have made attempts to call people out on these things, or “debate” them on the issue, but I have grown weary of this. I have come to realize that no matter how cogent an argument I make, and no matter how many facts I present, I will never be able to reason with someone who has become unreasonable.
So, the issue I am grappling with is whether or not I will regret it if I am no longer friends with people whom I have shared many years with, but who continuously promote values that I consider vile. And, perhaps my memory is inaccurate, but wasn’t there a time when such open hatred of the president, the poor, and immigrants was considered vile by society in general? To be clear, I have no problem with someone simply having political views that are different from my own, and I have plenty of family and friends who I get along with just fine in spite of our political differences. I do, however, have a problem with those who promote the hatred of others. No political ideology is inherently hateful; a concept lost on those who use political affiliation to justify hatred.
My heart is heavy when I think about distancing myself from people who have been an important part of my life for many years, but I don’t know how much more I can tolerate. I have nearly had enough.