I’m a pretty easy-going, down to earth person. Easy to please. Easy to laugh. Easy to smile. Easy to . . . well, some things are better left unsaid. Let’s just say I’m easy going and leave it at that.
I have a wide and diverse circle of friends whom I love dearly. Each of them unique and vastly different from the other – and I love them each, all for different reasons entirely. They bring richness, quality and brightness to my life, something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
I have a group of girls that I go out to dinner with every couple of months. One of them is my ex-boss from a hospital I used to work at. Her and I had quite a fallling out when I quit my job – – because the reason for my resignation was because our ideals were vastly different. She would not allow me to take the department in the direction I KNEW it needed to go . . because she KNEW it needed to go somewhere else. We bickered, argued, fought . . and eventually, I gave in and found a job where I felt I could be happy and useful.
But, to this day – we are dear friends. She’s a hard-core, liberal Democrat, compared to my more moderate, right leanings. We argue politics until we lose our voice. I don’t like her politics – – but I love her. And I do love our discussions on the topic.
I have another very close friend who is deeply religious, compared to my atheism. We sometimes get into some heated discussions about religion, beliefs, faith and god. She knows where I stand. I know where she stands. But at the end of a discussion where we are the polar opposite from the other . . . we still love one another. We can switch between discussing religon and hair products without missing a beat – – and without any ill will toward the other.
Chris, the man in my life, and I are at odds, politically, at times. When he and I first met – – it was like world war three! He and I would stay up until 4 in the morning in deep discussion and heated debate over current issues. Some would say that the heated debate fueled our love affair . . . but that’s a whole other story. To this day, 4 years later – – he and I can still blow the roof off the house with some of our political discussions. Some of our beliefs are vastly different. I love him deeply – – and there isn’t a thing I wouldn’t do for him.
I’m accepting. I like to surround myself with accepting people. The kind of people in this world that I just don’t have time for are the vindictive, angry, outraged people who have the ‘my way or the highway’ sort of attitude towards beliefs, values, religon and politics. I don’t want to surround myself with people who are a mirror image of me. If you want to hate me for my beliefs on a particular topic – – that’s fine. But I really don’t have any room for you in my life.
My friends . . . I love ’em. Warts n’ all.
I think debate among friends is healthy. It’s a wonderful way to explore your own beliefs, if you have a group of friends that you know you can trust to share those beliefs with . . whether they agree or disagree with you. These heated discussions that I enter into with my friends can be VERY heated. They’ll tell me why I’m wrong – – and I’ll enlighten them as to why I feel THEY are wrong. We’ll reason, rationalize and spin it every single direction to get a point across to the other. To PROVE that I’m right, dammit!
When I make a mistake – they point it out to me. When they’ve made an error in their discussion — they, usually, gracefully accept defeat. It’s envigorating and the entire process is deeply interesting to me.
Not ever, however – in this close group of friends that I surround myself with – do I ever hear words of personal attack. No matter how deeply we disagree with one another. These friends of mine know intimate details about my life – – my goals, my mistakes, my history, my ups and down . . my strengths and weaknesses – – but I can always fully trust that these friends of mine would never use the intimate details of my life against me in a negative way – just to prove how morally superior, righteous and better they are. There’s no name calling. You won’t hear “You’re a scumbag for believing that way” – – or “What a total asshole you are for that belief” – – or anything of the sort. It’s called respect and trust – – and I have it and give it, and treasure it deeply.
I’ve learned a great deal in my debates with folks who believe differently from myself on different topics. I’ve learned that I’m flexible, and open to new and different ideas that stretch my understanding of the world around me. If I disagree with it – – I want to understand WHY I disagree.
Sometimes those types of discussions and debates takes me on a journey that causes me to reevaluate my own standing on things, as I reason out, and try to understand the argument from the other side. I have strong political beliefs – -but I am not inflexible and they are not etched in stone.
To those friends of mine, and you know who you are – I just wanted to take a minute and tell you that I appreciate you a great deal – even in the face of all our differences. With you in my life, I’m rich – I grow and understand, better, the world around me. For that, I thank you.