Making the best of a bad thing
If there’s one thing I’m thankful for about the 2016 Philippine elections, it’s that since then I’ve learned to show patience and compassion to those who share opinions different from mine (because they’re obviously the ones in the wrong). Also, it’s led to me going on a social media detox, dropping my Facebook habit and sticking to Instagram for comics, art and awesome photography.
Before you continue reading, go Google “should you let politics influence friendships?” or other similar queries—you’ll find the very first page littered with conflicting opinions. I did the same before writing this piece under the guise of “research” and had a half-dozen tabs open before I made the executive decision to do away with disabling my ad blocker and actually reading all of the pages I pulled up. I closed the tabs, sat down in front of my aging laptop, and decided to write down my own unfiltered opinions.
Also please don’t use an ad blocker on our site—the revenue means a lot to us.
For the benefit of keeping the peace around here, I’ll withhold my own political leanings for now, but I’ll admit that I have more than a few good friends with whom I disagree vehemently on various sundry topics, some being matters of criminality, others of human rights and others whether abject authoritarianism will be the inevitable fate of humankind. My personal stance on these matters is irrelevant, instead I want to talk about how it resulted in alienation between myself and people I’ve known for years.
There are times when I look back fondly on days spent hanging out with people, bonding over books and video games, or just vibing in a bar, talking about the world and everyone in it. We didn’t agree on everything, of course, but there’s a fundamental difference between idle, hypothetical chatter in the darkest hours of the night and talking about very real policies that could well upturn our world and change the way people live their lives.
I still miss those days, but I still think it was for the best that things went the way they did.
Not one person or ruling body has all the right answers to every single problem ever, and that’s a belief that I hold to this day. Some might be more (universally) wrong than others based on your perspective, but that doesn’t really matter. My biases aside, and I certainly lean one way more than others, I strive to be a centrist. That just means that where valid criticism exists, I encourage myself and others to not overlook it, and where praise need be dispensed, I urge the same. It just seems to me like the only genuinely fair way to go about things.
But now you might be asking yourself why I saw fit to end friendships. Easy: It’s because I try to keep an open mind about things. On any political spectrum there are going to be extremists, people who believe that the politicians that affirm their own decisions and say the things they want to hear can do no wrong, people who demonize “others” as if they were actively working to undermine kindness and do harm.
Whatever your stance is you have to be aware that there are people who share the same beliefs as you that act this way, and frankly, it’s unhealthy.
Why listening is an active skill
What good can be had of a mouth with no ears? Authors and artists don’t work in a void, they dive into the world, immerse themselves in inspiration, refine those experiences and create. The very best laws are made that way too. How often have you heard new ordinances and regulations criticized because they were obviously penned by people too high up to know what they’re talking about, unable to genuinely see the problems they set out to address?
The reason I distance myself from people isn’t because I disagree with their choice of candidates, whether they’re pro-choice or pro-life, what their stance on Filipino-first policies in the context of engaging in a global market is. I distance myself because I listen, and it’s hard to make informed decisions when you speak to others who refuse to extend the same courtesy. Objective, God-sent truth may well exist in the world outside of churches, but I strongly doubt any one person is equipped to handle and dispense that truth on their own efforts. Perspective is a valuable thing, but the narrower it gets the more it wears thin, and the more flimsy it becomes.
Ultimately, it’s not a matter of letting anyone’s political ideas influence your friendship—it’s about how you don’t want to be friends with someone who might be hateful, bigoted or unwilling to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions about important matters. It’s a matter of not wanting to spend time with someone who can never admit they might be wrong.
You just don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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