Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Why Can't We Be Friends?

   They say we're more divided in this country than ever before. While that's obviously not true (see: the American Civil War), it is true that Americans are very divided these days. It's normal and even good to have people in this country that disagree fundamentally, but that advantage of different perspectives goes away when we're never nice to each other. Nowadays, it seems like if two people disagree on certain issues, they're not allowed to still be friends, respect each other's differences, and be kind to each other.
   Take, for instance, the issue of gay rights. George W. Bush is, as Ellen DeGeneres put it, a "conservative Republican president", while she is a "gay Hollywood liberal". Ellen and her partner attended a football game that George W. Bush and his wife were also attending. They sat near each other, chatted, and had a good time, despite the fundamental differences in their beliefs. Ellen was slammed on social media for being friends with George W. Bush. Slammed! For being nice to someone she disagreed with. I myself don't agree with certain of Ellen's personal choices, but I applaud her for refusing to follow the trend of society today and instead acting like a decent human being. She told everyone that we have forgotten that being different is okay and that we can disagree with people and still be friends.
   Ellen is exactly right. I think many people have started to see people that disagree with them, especially people who are white, male, Republican, Christian, or, heaven forbid, all of those at once, are people that hate them, have some sort of agenda against them, or somehow wish harm on them. That kind of thinking is ridiculous! Just because I disagree with Ellen's life choices doesn't mean I hate her or think she's some kind of lesser human being. I applaud her for being able to look past barriers and be friends with someone who is very different from her, even though she probably knew there would be backlash.
   I posted a while ago about enemies. What I said in that blogpost still holds very true today. Maybe I really am idealistic, like my fellow students told me in class yesterday, but I don't see why that idealism has to be a bad thing. Why can't we all strive to be better than we think we can be, to be friendlier, to put aside our differences and get along anyway? Why can't we be different and still be friends? As they have said, don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon. Don't tell me we can't stop focusing on "black" and "white", "white privilege" and "black oppression", on any of the real or perceived superficialities that set us apart and focus on the true person instead. Don't tell me we can't be better than we are. Don't tell me we have to be ashamed of our past to truly change our future. We are more capable of the impossible than we could ever dream. Why is it wrong to dream big?
   The differences that set us apart don't have to divide us. So forget what's possible and just do what's right. You and I can be as different as can be, but we can still get along and be friends.
   So please, let's stop the attacks on people who believe differently than you, who look different or act different, or maybe even believe some of the things you do are wrong. Chances are, they probably don't actually hate you, and would be more than willing to be friends.
   We don't gain anything from fighting and hating each other. Differences don't have to be divisive. Disagree doesn't equal enemy.
   Why can't we be friends?

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