Saturday, September 28, 2013

Irreconcilable Differences

Is it possible for opposites to be friends?

I guess it depends on what you mean by opposites.

You know how they say opposites attract. Well, usually they mean only opposite in some ways, not all. It's usually like one person is more introverted and the other is more extroverted. Or one is more logical, and the other is more emotional. Or one is a morning person, the other is a night owl. You know, differences in personality, mostly.

But what about beliefs? When it comes to ideas, do opposites attract?

Is it really possible for a conservative and a liberal to be friends? And I don't just mean friendly in the polite sense, as you would with work associates, neighbors, or casual acquaintances, but to actually be good friends, or even companions?

How about a leftist and a right winger? An atheist and a devoutly religious person? A feminist with a sexist? A white supremacist and a black person who believes in the equality of all races? A meat eating hunter and a vegan pacifist?

Okay, those last few are extreme examples, that are probably unlikely to ever occur, but are given just to illustrate the possibility of two people having vastly different beliefs getting together, based on some other common link, which could be anything, a common taste in music, literature, art, or some other hobby, that would enable them to be friends, despite what would otherwise appear to be irreconcilable differences.

I think it would be difficult. Although not impossible. It depends on how outspoken they are, whether or not they are likely to want to discuss and debate their ideas, or whether they are the kind of people that don't have a problem keeping their ideas to themselves. Out of sight and out of mind, just like sometimes people don't bring their work home with them. They do not talk about it at all, and the other does not ask. Their relationship with one another is a completely separate aspect of their lives, an island unto themselves, completely removed from their work life.

To me, that would be the only way two people with vastly incompatible beliefs could ever really get along, is if they simply do not discuss those beliefs with each other. And if they did discuss those beliefs, where each strongly disagrees with the other, I personally could not understand the attraction.

I would say that for them to be able to overlook and accept such a pronounced difference, a difference that really gets to the essence of who they are are and what they stand for as a person, I would say that they must be distracted by some other aspect of this person that is clouding their judgment; or it is indicative of the fact that maybe they don't have a very strong conviction in their beliefs to begin with, that they could be attracted to someone who stands for an idea that is in direct opposition to something that they have claimed to be an important part of their life.

I think it's natural that people gravitate to other people that share something in common with them. This commonality might be superficial, a shared taste in music, literature, sports, or any other common interest or taste. But for the commonality to be much stronger and deeper, its got to also extend into the realm of ideas and beliefs.

So while it is possible for people with opposing viewpoints to be friends, they will only be friends on a very superficial level. Like activity partners, that get together to play tennis or whatever, but that never get into political or religious discussions. They will be friends to a certain degree, but by no means will they ever be good friends, as long as their minds are apart on issues that really matter to them.

*This is post 17 of 20, part of my 20 Posts in 30 Days challenge.

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