Getting to Know You

Guaranteed to make friends and enemies alike!
Guaranteed to make friends and enemies alike!

January 7, 2013

Since the world didn’t explode last month, or it did and we’re all actually in purgatory, I can go back to writing, ranting, and making videos. First, though, a word for anyone who has a blog, a Facebook account, or even just an opinion.

We’re never going to agree.

Well, maybe that’s overdoing it. Perhaps we’ll never agree entirely, but the fact that many of us are trying to get the conversation going gives me hope that this isn’t for nothing. Talking, writing, researching, arguing… it can get tedious and often makes for some very nice headaches, but it’s not a bad thing.

Last week, an old friend sent me a message where he expressed concern that our online debates and posts may hurt our friendship. He’s a staunch libertarian. While I agree with some libertarian points, I’m very much against things like getting rid of the social safety net and would like strong government regulations on things like banks. I believe public education is broken, but essential. I believe in limited gun ownership and control.

Obviously, we’re not going to run for office together any time soon.

Lovepeople Hategovernment by ~mrddixon on deviantART

But his message struck me. While we’d certainly disagreed on many things, I never thought less of him. I’m sure my tone probably made it sound that way, but I’d like to repeat what I told him.

It’s not about differing ideas moving people apart. It’s about lack of respect.

Over the last ten years, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with and known people from all over the ideological spectrum. I’ve known Catholics, Wiccans, anarchists, old-school Republicans and young Republicans, humanists, Hindus, vegans, Tea Partiers, gun enthusiasts, pacifists, military vets, gays, bi, straight, genderqueer, artists, academics, historians, and every type of crazy you can imagine. Obviously, I have very different opinions from many on this list. Working with others is a skill everyone should have, but what about actually talking, conversing, and maintaining relationships with people with different opinions? Can you really not talk about religion, politics, and sex and keep a civil conversation?

Back in college, there was a guy at my fraternity who had a giant Confederate flag up on one wall. He studied history and rarely saw the point to fiction since, in his mind, real life was so much more interesting. He turned out to be one of my best friends. We would watch Invader Zim, drink beer, and eat chips and salsa. While he did mellow out slightly and is nowhere near as conservative as he was when he was younger, even then I could get along with him as though he were my brother.

Why?

Respect.

Respect by ~canoneos on deviantART

He had clearly thought out his position on many things. He was open to change. He was curious about the world and sought to learn. He wasn’t stuck in just one position and bogged down by rigid ideology. The same goes for my friend who messaged me a few days ago. He’s very learned and obviously gave serious thought to his position. I disagree with his conclusions, but I respect his position, and I’ve actually learned from him from time to time, just as I hope he’s learned from me. He holds on to his beliefs and stands by what he says. So do I.

What I can’t respect, and what I often write about, are the people who hold on to concepts based on lies and ignorance. I can’t respect someone who blatantly refuses to listen to others, to accept he or she may be wrong. I can’t respect someone who tries to justify prejudice or tradition with pseudoscience and blatant half-truths.

We may never agree on everything. That’s fine. In fact, I find comfort in the fact that we can all have such different opinions and sometimes end up in a different place after those opinions come out. We’ll change our positions, sometimes slowly, sometimes at moments of epiphany. But as long as we keep talking, keep trying to reach a solid conclusion, I think we’ll be fine. In the end, most of us just want the same thing: a better world, to be free and safe. We go about it differently, but at least we’re heading the same way.

So from me to my friends, you’re my friends because I respect you. We don’t always agree, but that’s not required for me to care about you or call you “friend.”

And now, speaking of spilt blood, let’s check out the new red-band trailer for the remake of Evil Dead. Warning! Copious blood and gore ahead! What a way to start 2013…