Pals or politics

With Trump in office, politics continue to be what feels like more of a hot topic than ever. We’re still arguing on both sides about the wall, Russia, tax reform, Korea and healthcare. Clinton’s book was released in September, the JFK files were made public and the president has declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. As issues on both sides continue to arise, the struggle between Republicans and Democrats seems more evident than ever.

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about whether members of the two parties could actually sustain a friendship. We both agreed: of course they can. Here’s why.

First, friendship doesn’t mean having everything in common. Friendship, along with any relationship, comes with compromise. I have friends who couldn’t have more different beliefs than me, and a lot of times that just means not talking politics. I would rather maintain that relationship than feel frustrated by our differences. If they’re truly your friend, odds are they feel the same way.

Second, I’ve always felt it’s impossible to have a strong argument for or against anything without understanding the perspective of the other side. It frustrates me when people say things like, “I don’t like seafood,” but when you ask if they’ve tried seafood they tell you no. Obviously politics are much more hard-hitting than seafood, but the principle is the same. You can only be for or against something with the right amount of information from both viewpoints in order to form your own. Allow your friends with different viewpoints to educate you on why they feel a certain way, and give them the respect to express that. If you disagree, use their points to make yours stronger. It’s important to have your views challenged. Try the seafood, if you still don’t like it, that’s your opinion and you can stick to it. (Also, can we all agree that if everyone were the exact same with uniform viewpoints that would be REALLY BORING?).

I think it’s great to see some of the programming on campus lately has addressed this idea. Last week, an open event called Confronting Conflict was put on to “explore the perspectives of others in regards to current events,” and an event on Nov. 8 called “Dear _____ People,” looks to “bring light to common perspectives different social groups may have.” Kudos to the clubs, orgs and departments on campus that continue to try to bring us together to have these types of conversations.

The bottom line is this. Conservative or liberal, you will always have to interact with someone who feels different than you. Don’t let your or their beliefs get in the way of a possible friendship.

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