A few years ago, one of my Facebook friends shared the photo above. She then talked about how it is great to have friends with differing points of view and that politics and opinion should never be reasons to end a friendship. I call bull crap on that play.
Friendship is a gift.
Take a moment to think about your group of friends. They may be a diverse group of people. They may be people with different:
Your friends are people who encourage you, inspire you, and motivate you to be better. Your friends want good things for you. Politically speaking, I am a Liberal. I mean a liberally, liberal type of Liberal. One of my longest friendships is with a woman who is not only a Republican but a Dallas Cowboys fan. (Only those of you who are real Eagles fans from Philadelphia will understand the magnitude of that statement.) Now while this woman and I have different views on the true purpose of taxation and sports teams, she wishes me well. She believes I have a right to exist and I have value as a human being. We are friends.
She is my friend because I like her. I like her sense of humor. I like that she has crazy kids and a husband who drives her crazy on occasion. I like that she is a knitter and likes to eat real food. I dislike her trickle-down economics ideas. I hate her view that government should do less to help people. But I like her as a person. She is my friend. She thinks my life has value and that I deserve equitable treatment in this world. I am her friend because I choose to give her the gift of friendship.
Friendship is not a debt I owe.
The idea that I should not end friendships over political ideology and differences of opinion is crazy to me. In my Facebook friends post, people had a wide variety of ideas about friendship. There were quite a few people who stated that they would never end a friendship over political and ideological differences. That is a cute idea. But, in my mind, it is not a smart idea. Nor is it an idea that I can afford to follow.
I am an African-American woman living in the United States of America. My husband is a black man and I am the mother of a black teenaged son who is six foot five. More days than I can count, the news is full of reports of people who look like my son and my husband and I being abused and killed by police. If your politics and opinion is that it is okay for my husband, my son, and I to be killed by police for living while black, we cannot be friends.
If your opinion and politics tell you that my family and I are less worthy than you and your family to live and be treated equitably in this country, we cannot be friends. If your opinion and politics tell you that people who share my Christian faith don’t deserve equitable treatment in this country, we cannot be friends. If your opinion and politics tell you that because I am a woman, I do not deserve equitable treatment, we cannot be friends.
I don’t owe anyone the gift of my friendship. If your view of me and mine changes, I have the right to take my friendship away from you. You have a right to your political views, opinions, and points of view. What you do not have a right to is my friendship. Never forget that my friendship is a gift, not a debt I owe.