Speaking with a special, highly valued friend the other day, we determined that we are at exactly opposite positions on what I will call a “social issue.” This friend is also a business associate, resulting in a proximity that is closer than those friends with whom we sporadically connect.
We spent some time on the issue, agreed to disagree and went on to other topics with which we are largely in accord. As always, we ended the conversation on a high note, promising to communicate again in the near future.
Since that time, it has occurred to me that many of us create either reasons not to be close to another person or to castigate that person simply because of a difference of opinion on a subject. Here’s how that looks:
I can’t be friends with Rupert Lunchbucket because he is a right-wing conservative and I am a liberal.
I can’t associate with Linda Lunchbucket because her daughter is dating an African American and I think that’s just wrong.
You have decided that the American Cancer Society is your designated charity of choice. Mine is the Parkinson’s Association so there’s no sense in our continuing this relationship.
It’s possible that time and the nature of a relationship dictate how important any single concern can become. If we are at the initial stages of getting to know each other, it’s possible (but not likely) that a political stance can make or break that collaboration. But I would suggest that many people prematurely decide to admit or exclude another person based on sincerely superficial reasons.
Formidable friendships such as the one I earlier referenced are extremely difficult to establish and nurture. Consequently, we defeat ourselves by creating artificial (and often absurd) conditions under which those liaisons can continue. As one who has had many acquaintances and comparatively few true and lasting friendships, I know how valuable friends can be and are to me. If you find a person with the right heart and spirit, toss away any of his or her beliefs with which you may be at odds. When it has to do with a union of souls, all the rest is incidental. Shalom.