Can you continue to be friends with those who don’t think exactly like you in important issues and values of life? Yes, of course, you can. Especially if both of you agree to disagree in discussions.
I spent last weekend relaxing with old friends. It has been a very busy week and we have had a lot of time to recover the lost energies in this last span. During the weekend, we found out how much we have changed in these two months of isolation. We live very different lives and endorse very different views – I can say diametrically opposite – on religion, politics, and life in general. But that didn’t stop us from having a fantastic weekend. Neither should have done. Few friends agree with you on everything, but we can – and should – be willing to make friends with people who have different beliefs and come from different backgrounds.
I have thought a lot about this issue, also driven by various vicissitudes that had been happening on the web and on social media in this period of isolation, in which the peaks of aggression had decidedly increased in an anomalous way.
It is clear that if I don’t agree with you, it doesn’t mean I hate you. We must make it a focal point, in the way we are all using social media and in life, in general. It happens that there are very heated discussions; it happens that the more heated the discussions are, the greater the misunderstandings and quarrels. When it comes right down to it, you end up nowhere, without being able to change the other person’s idea or to bring anything positive to the whole discussion. Wouldn’t it be better to learn to accept different points of view and try to coexist in harmony? It’s not easy! Sure! Because not everyone thinks like you; not everyone knows the things you know; not everyone believes the same things you believe in, nor do they act the same way you do. We always take refuge in seemingly safe relationships, because we choose to have friends with the same ideas, the same visions, and the same ways of acting. But everything else is lost. You can decide to accept or reject the ideas of others and close it there. Or, if you realize that you have a sufficiently intelligent person in front of you, who is able to argue politely with you, without getting upset, or being too emotional and instinctive, you will discover that you could learn something new.
There is no need to raise your voice, to be offensive, or even to get angry. We’re so in synch because it is a common belief that understanding leads to tolerance and it is what we need in these social networks, and in life in general. Those who have canceled me from their life, blocked me on the social web, or, worse, insulted behind my backs (first-rate cowardice) deserve nothing but to subdue in their own misery and resentment for an inferiority complex that eats their soul more of any kind of comparison. It is not a topic on which I am going to syndicate, because already in itself, it is insignificant in its meanness. And it’s fine. Instead, what I have been thinking about a lot is the fact that we all have values so important to us that we cannot be INTIMATELY friends with those who believe in values opposite to ours. But to be friends it is not necessary to agree on everything. In order to be friends, mutual respect is needed.
As mentioned before, maintaining these friendships is easier said than done, especially if we believe that the other person’s opinions are unpleasant or offensive. But it is possible !!! The secret to remain friend with someone you disagree with lies in our mutual attitude. First, it takes an attitude of intellectual humility, which is the awareness of our limits and intellectuals’ fallibility, willingness to consider new ideas and to have good friendships. Each of us has probably talked to someone who lacks intellectual humility. This type of person is easy to pinpoint. When faced with an opposite vision, he (or she) reacts in two ways: he (or she) oppresses his opponent in submission or withdraws into an icy and condescending silence. However, a person deprived of intellectual humility cannot manage anyone who questions their beliefs (often tenaciously argued).
On the other hand, it is a pleasure to discuss with the intellectually humble person. Although he does not compromise his beliefs to accommodate others, he will take their beliefs seriously. He is interested in finding the truth and will quickly change his mind if it can be proved wrong.
It is easy to understand why this virtue is necessary for a relationship of good friendship. Even the slightest disagreement will end a friendship with someone who has no intellectual humility. On the other hand, intellectually humble friends will listen to even the most eccentric theories and weigh them equally, which allows a friendship to thrive even among people with different beliefs.
I would then add an attitude of brotherly love. I use the concept of brotherly love to describe general goodwill among friends, but it could also be called humanity or benevolence. It consists of seeing and loving the good in another person. Brotherly love plays a fundamental role in preserving a friendship between two people who disagree. For example, if two people disagree on the issues of veganism, it is frighteningly easy to enter a fit of anger, accuse the other of injustice and go wild. But brotherly love prevents this type of reaction between friends. Instead of getting angry, friends mutually give each other the benefit of the doubt because of their mutual goodwill. They strive to see the good in their friend’s opinions. And even if they find the thoughts of their friends wrong or offensive, they take the time to investigate why they keep these ideas. I would attach the idea of ”No winner, all winners” to this concept, that is, in order to learn how to have good discussions, we must shift the focus towards a common goal. Nobody has to win: victory belongs to everyone if the goal is achieved. The priority is, therefore, another: personal pride is replaced by everyone’s interest. Consent is no longer a yardstick: it is not certain that the one who receives the most consensus is really the one who has the best ideas.
Listening to others and deepening their opinions, without necessarily making it one’s own, is another fundamental attitude. In a relaxed atmosphere, nobody judges or condemns anyone. A good comparison takes into account the relationships between the parties: we are dealing with friends, acquaintances, people with whom we share daily life, or with people with whom we may have a relationship in the future. It is important to pay attention from both sides, especially if we care about the relationship with others because even the best argument loses its meaning if nobody listens to them. Conflicting relationships lead to more bitter and violent discussions: it is better to resolve all personal matters first, mend the wounds and then move on to clarify other topics. Only in this way, we shall overcome the communication obstacles that lead to a total débâcle. Listening to others also means to get informed about the culture belonging of the people we want to face: it is imperative to ask a few questions and to be genuinely interested in the cultural aspects of others because all these aspects have a direct impact on how people think and interpret reality. We must learn to deal with different world views, which, the gist of it, we must always strive to keep an open mind.
It is also essential to get rid of the fear of being vulnerable and fragile. Often we only deal with like-minded people, we lock ourselves up in Facebook groups that only talk about our ideas, we only read the news that confirms our beliefs. All because we are too afraid of being vulnerable. In doing so, however, we will never grow, we will have no way of knowing more revolutionary points of view, we preclude the possibility of meeting interesting people. Getting out of the shell helps progress, ours, and everyone’s, someone said: let’s encourage change in our life, then! History teaches: a small wick is enough to detonate a real cultural revolution. But how to start the conversation with people who think differently from us? The best way is to start looking for common points. We will find more than we think and create a sense of trust that allows a constructive comparison.
Finally, I would conclude, that a concept of respect for the individual, is another major attitude. If we want to be friends with people we disagree with, we must also recognize their individual character. It can be terribly easy to think that you know everything about a person just by knowing their race, political tendencies, religion, or orientation. But even if we know these details about a person, do we really know them? To say that we know a person only because we know some demographic details is like saying that we know exactly what Nigeria is like just because we can list some facts about the country. Obviously, we hardly know everything about Nigeria compared to someone who lives there.
Likewise, we cannot claim to know a person unless we spend time with him (or her) and get to know him (or her). Even if we know his (her) political tendencies, do we know why they support that political group in that way? And if they come from an ethnic group other than ours, do we know how much he(she) grew up with that background? Even more so, friendship is between two people. If we look at people as if they were only the sum of some general details, we do not consider them as people and we can never be their friends. But by learning more about their thoughts, motivations, questions, and stories, we start to see them as they are. Knowing a person in this way is the baseline of a good friendship.
I can’t help thinking about how important this commitment has become; so much that in the United States was founded the ” Better Arguments Project“, a partnership between the Aspen Institute Citizenship, the “American Identity Program, “Facing History and Ourselves ”and“ The Allstate Corporation ”: we are talking about a new civic initiative, at national (American) level, created to help overcome ideological divisions. Changing your mind is not mandatory: it’s just a matter of learning how to confront each other in the most correct way. The basic idea is simple: the more we know what we are talking about, the better we argue our positions, the more constructive the comparison with others will be. We must always remember that we are all human, all with different backgrounds, all with more or less complicated lives, all looking for a better future.
So folks, let’s stop blaming the world, karma, and the whole universe for our inability to interact, with relative calm, with others and take responsibility for our voids. Let’s check if we have included, in the highest peaks of a discussion, all those attitudes that help to dilute unnecessary aggression and anger and that help maintain a peaceful relationship, despite the profound differences of opinions.
If we find ourselves, UNAVOIDABLY, in front of people we don’t give a damn, conflicting, negative, toxic individuals, who, with too much ease and frequency, damage us and violate our peace, who criticize excessively, who gossip ad libitum, who protest randomly and who beat around the bush reality, how and when it suits them, causing discussions between people who may have been in harmony before…; people who have a special inclination to the clash and it seems that most of the time they are looking for a chance to provoke an explosion, without considering their thoughts, opinions, emotions, and behaviors, as well as ours… .. just so you know that, probably, they are not a deep well of wickedness nor have nothing personal towards you, but, instead, it is possible that they are waging an important battle with themselves. So, in these cases, taken to the limit, we can try to distance ourselves emotionally, preventing their negativity from absorbing us, but we must go for looking at the situation in perspective, avoiding to internalize their attacks and get carried away by their torments. Consider the fact that each person gives others what they have inside and we value their opinions and actions; there are no offenses without offenses. We have all the weapons available to defend ourselves from free attacks and they are distance, understanding, and the ability to ignore the irrelevant. The problem is not those who hurt, but those who repeatedly respond to these attacks. We can choose whether to scroll the words around us or, on the contrary, to imprint them inside us, poisoning ourselves.
Only remember that beautiful Zen story in which the teacher asked his pupils:
– “Someone comes to you with a gift and you don’t accept it, who does it belong to? One of the pupils replied:
– “To those who tried to deliver it”
– “The same goes for envy, anger and insults” – said the master. “When they are not accepted, they continue to belong to those who brought them with them.”
@Wizzy, Afro Bodhisattva, Entrepreneur, Physical Anthropologist, Freelance researcher of African Studies, culture, tradition and heritage, CEO Dolomite Aggregates LTD and Founder MBA Métissage Boss Academy . & Métissage SangueMisto.