Thanks to all of you who commented to my previous post about having “words” with a friend. I appreciate the input and you all made very valid points.
I got a response from my old friend with the different political viewpoints. I was glad to see he read (I think) my whole message. I hope he wouldn’t mind if I share a bit of our exchange with you.
“...and your first paragraph was all that I needed to read. I appreciate the fact that your opinions are well researched, and I am certain that every day you read things that support your beliefs. All I ask is that you respect mine.”
It’s a good thing to “conserve” a friendship with a “liberal” amount of understanding.
I think I see from this experience what it all boils down to. It’s that word, “beliefs”.
He said, “...I am certain that every day you read things that support your beliefs.”
I’m sure I do, but I would tell him, if the subject could be discussed, I also read a lot that does not support my beliefs. I’m glad he understood my opinions are based on research. That would give them at least some grounding in verifiable reality. Then he mentioned respecting each other’s beliefs.
Hey, wait a second. There’s that word again.
Ok, let’s see what that word means.
According to my American Heritage Dictionary:
Belief –1. The mental act, condition or habit of placing trust or confidence in a person or thing. Faith. 2. Mental acceptance or conviction in the truth or actuality of something.
3. Something believed or accepted as true; especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets, accepted by a group.
I don’t think I have any beliefs when it comes to politics and politicians. That would mean I have trust, confidence, or faith in the “truth” in politics. And that whole element of faith would be terribly misplaced. I may have faith in friendship, faith in love, faith in my wife and faith in God. But I do not have faith in economics, politics, parties, government, politicians, and media. For them I have opinions, and plenty of them.
Here is what I believe. I believe people hold onto beliefs in a party or politician in a way similar to someone who has accepted a particular religion, or leader, or even a religious cult leader. It could be like someone’s desperate belief in their abusive spouse.
At one point in their life they decided to believe in someone or something, and they cannot reflect back on the decision. Like authoritarian followers whose decision to embrace the leader is irrevocable. It would be like doubting their purpose in life.
You could have a family member who joins a cult or marries a liar and cheater, and you may try to plead with them about the mistake they are making. They would only turn from you and follow their own misguided beliefs.
Someone may start out voting republican because their parents did. And that’s it; end of all consideration. They will support the party while being oblivious to the radical course it has taken. They just don’t pay it any thought or attention.
It is somehow wired into certain human brains. Their own beliefs are never questioned. It is up to our judgment whether we accept the person into our lives or not. If they accept us, we owe it to be there for them. Some lucky souls out there eventually see the light.