When it comes to friendships and family, drawing a line in the sand is not something I find easy to do. It makes me sad and leaves me feeling very much like a heel regardless of how “justified” it may be.
I understand that in abusive, manipulative, and generally toxic relationships, there is often no other choice but to break away permanently from the offending individual. In this post, however, I’m referring to dealing with differences of opinion or beliefs that, at times, can also appear too big to overcome and may leave you tempted to give up on or walk away from a friendship or family member. I found myself in that position earlier this evening as I read through some unusually more insulting Facebook posts shared by a few of my liberal friends.
I am not a fan of labels or pigeon-holing, but these individuals are as liberal as I am conservative. Thankfully, at least thus far, this hasn’t really posed a problem. As long as we maintain a level of mutual respect and etiquette and agree to disagree, the differing moral, political, and spiritual beliefs of my friends and I do not necessarily signal the death knell of a relationship. This evening, for a moment, I was no longer sure this was the case. Instead of brushing off the condescending left-wing sentiments of these particular posts, I found myself thinking, “I give up already! I’m just unfollowing these people!” I even wrote a lengthy post alluding (somewhat passive-aggressively, of course) to my disappointment in the increasingly insurmountable differences of opinion, but just before I pressed the “post” button, I managed to step back and leave it alone for a while. I wanted to give myself time to see if I could actually let this be.
To get straight to the point – after busying myself with the never-ending, nightly to do list that comes with maintaining a small village of cats, I decided NOT to publish my lengthy post but instead deleted it. I’m glad I did. I’m not thrilled with the tone and language of the posts I read, but, the world doesn’t really care about how I feel and, I reminded myself, I’ve posted comments on my Facebook wall that haven’t always pleased others.
I must continue to remember that some of us are on opposite ends of the spiritual and political spectrum and that is unlikely to change. There will be more posts that contradict my beliefs, and vice versa. I wish some of my friends and I could find common ground on certain issues, but that seems increasingly unlikely. Nothing I post will pry them out of their belief system or lure them over to “my side,” and nothing they post is going to change my mind. I do believe, if we are willing to cast aside the insults and condescension, we can at least give each other “food for thought” and provide different perspectives on some of the divisive issues facing us today.
Having said all of that, it would be foolish to think I won’t ever again feel like taking the easy way out and hitting the unfollow button. I hope that when tempted to do so, I remember that it is the person behind the opinion that matters. It is the person who I may have known since childhood, who schlepped with me through the awkward teenage years, and, though many do not know it, who brought me through some tough times by offering their friendship and providing much laughter and support. I was almost guilty of forgetting that tonight and I know I would have regretted it tomorrow.
Obviously, we are no longer the children or teenagers we once were. We have all experienced life on different paths and those paths have lead us to develop the beliefs we live by. If I can just remember that, maybe I will also remember to forego the knee-jerk reactions and just “let it be.”