Differences in political ideologies never seemed to bother me–that is, until Trump assumed office.
His election was rather monumental in bringing to the forefront politics in the US really is and how elusive “common ground” is. With self-constructed echo chambers enveloping everything from our social media habits to our news consumption patterns to our friendships, it seems harder than ever to take a genuine interest in what the other side has to say.
For the first time ever, I caught myself seriously questioning my relationships with some on Facebook who seemed to share Trump’s ideology and condone his behaviour. I remember feeling a sense of shock that there were people I personally knew who supported him in his campaign for President of the United States.
I strongly support expanding our echo chambers to hear divergent voices and challenge pre-existing conceptions, but I stick to one main principle in the process. I readily welcome opposing views when it comes to fiscal policy or political ideology, as long as we can agree on certain fundamental principles that respect people’s dignity and rights. This seems like an effective principle on paper, but unfortunately, it doesn’t translate easily into reality when it comes to friends and acquaintances.
For instance, a friend and I may both value respect and agency for women, but religious backgrounds may make abortion a point of contention. Political ideology is a tenuous, umbrella term that can be difficult to unravel.
At the end of the day, I can understand how a person’s upbringing may have shaped their views when it comes to race, gender, sexuality, disability, or any other identity as it relates to politics and rights, but the minute the conversation shifts to dehumanizing a particular group, I find myself tuning out. We can sit here and argue over how racism should be addressed or why Black Lives Matter is important, but I see no reason to entertain arguments that justify the taking of Black lives or the exercise of power over vulnerable groups. I want to expand my bubble and burst my echo chamber, but not at the risk of sacrificing the core values I stand for.
There is a common saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. The five people on my list are all incredible human beings, and I could not be more proud to be associated with them. The people I consider to be close friends consistently share values of respect and humanity, no matter their political ideologies. Where differences in political ideologies have burned bridges, it is only because we no longer shared a common sense of humanity, which I have come to appreciate as a painful, but justified loss.
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