Monday, November 7, 2016

Politics and friendships

You know what pisses me off? People who want to sit on the fence, play nice with both sides, be "neutral." Those who say why can't we just all be friends, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya together. I'm thinking of those who proudly state that they have friends of all political persuasions and that they would never unfriend someone because of who they support in this, or any, election.

Now, that sounds all nice and touchy-feely, but it really makes me wonder if some people's need for friends is stronger than their convictions. I'm thoroughly in favor of maintaining basic civility and upholding the fundamental elements of the social contract. We can all live together and obey the rules of the road, hold a door for the person coming behind you, throw a rope to a drowning victim, and help out a neighbor or even a stranger in times of a natural disaster. But does that mean we can be friends with someone whose views are beyond the pale of basic human decency? No, not in my book.

Facebook has stretched the concept of friendship for many people because it may mean that you have only one thing in common and really you are casual acquaintances at most. But even there, I have to draw a line.

I recognize that not everyone draws the same line that I do, or draws it in the same location, but I am not inclined to associate with people who mock the disabled, assault women, insult women, or support those who do. I see no reason to associate with people who want to roll back the clock on gay rights, civil rights, and reproductive rights. I'll have no truck with bigots, racists, and fearmongers. People are not friends of mine if they are working to invalidate my marriage. People are free to be whatever form of deplorable assholes they want, but I am free to withdraw or withhold my association from them.
It was late summer at Kew Gardens, but it was still a beautiful
and interesting place, and there were still things in bloom.

I don't need people like that in my life and I don't want them as friends. They do nothing to enrich my life. I can be civil, cordial, and polite with them (usually), but we can not be friends.

I understand that politics is simply not important to some people. I don't really understand it, but I acknowledge that it is so. People probably can't understand my complete disinterest in sports either, when it is a subject of such great importance to many people. I don't have to know someone's political opinion to know whether or not they will be a good dog adopter. I can deal with most anyone on an apolitical basis on apolitical subjects, but to be a "friend" of mine is a status that I guard jealously because it implies a degree of intimacy and trust that I take seriously, and I'm not inclined to extend it to just anyone.

The Tate Modern had a very interesting exhibit on the life and
works of Georgia O'Keefe.
I've always had a Republican friend or two, and I'm sure that I associate with many of them on many topics and issues, but this is not just any election. This is an election when all decent people have rejected Trump and his alt-right agenda. Anyone who has not done so fails that most basic test of humanity.
The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum.
I'm always inclined to genuflect when
passing this, but I settled for a picture.

[The pictures are apropos of nothing, but they are a few from our 20/2nd anniversary trip to London in October. That's 20 years as a couple, two years as a legally married couple.]

The Lewis Chessmen is another classic from the core collection
at the British Museum.
We did a walking tour that ended here, at the British Library.
They've got an incredible collection, of course.

A pub in Nottingham that dates back to the time
of the Crusades. 


Anonymous said...

Bravo Brent!

Elle Clancy said...

Read your blog all the time, Brent. This was an excellent post; forwarded it to my son. Explains perfectly what I have been trying to tell him about what supporting Trump actually represents, not just as a vote. I belong to a card club here in Ohio; all well-educated, professional women. Realized at the last meeting that 9 of the 12 women are voting Trump...very disheartening. Will probably leave the group; tried to explain exactly why to my kids but you wrote it much better than I ever could. Yes, these women were my "friends" but you can never unlearn/unhear/forget what they actually believe in.

And that is the end of my rant. I just wanted you to know that I, as one of your readers, was very touched by your post...and here is hoping that Ohio has the good grace to go for Hillary today!