An Open Letter to My Friends

I have many friends who all come from many parts of my life: childhood friends, school friends, friends whose friendship I hadn’t earned in high school but whom I learned to cherish in recent years, friends from my first college and my “sisters,” friends from my second college, friends from my life after college, friends from my “mommy” life, friends from my after-first-marriage life, friends through diabetes, friends who come from Todd, friends I’ve made since I’ve remarried, restaurant friends, and friends who are family (hopefully I haven’t left anyone out).
I cherish the many friendships I have found and kept. What is wonderful about all of my friends is the diversity I have among them… white, black, biracial, gay, lesbian, Asian, Indian, interracial couples, unconventional relationships, liberals, conservatives, Catholics, Christians, Jews, psychics, big families, small families, obnoxious loudmouths, quiet lurkers ….. these I cherish because through our differences we learn so much from each other. I value all of your opinions, and … being the Gemini I am… I see two sides to every coin (usually more – which sounds a bit mentally unstable, but you get the point).
I accept that we all have our own views of the world, our own views of what’s right – and what’s wrong. I accept that our opinions may differ. I see your public statements that affirm where you stand on moral and political issues. I accept them. I may not agree with them, but I accept that those are your opinions and you are entitled to them.
I have always believed that I was entitled to my own – and that I could voice them as I chose to and you, my friends, would either accept them or you wouldn’t. Some of you have challenged me. And that’s okay too. I’ve posted things and then saw that “so-and-so” commented and I thought, oh God, here we go. But I know it’s a fair exchange of conversation, and in the end we’ll still be friends. Because our differing opinions may divide us, but they will not conquer.
One of my very best friends, whom I would walk across fire for – she’s on the opposite end of the political fence… and guess what? She’s still one of my most cherished friends. Another friend has been married for nearly 20 years to a man who belongs to the <<gasp>> other party. My in-laws didn’t vote for my candidate last time. So WHAT?
I have seen posts that offend me. I have seen posts I don’t agree with. But – I have never once called anyone out on them.  (There’s this new thing – it’s called scrolling.) I never once considered “unfriending” anyone – based on a post or the simple fact that I disagreed with a position. I never invited people to unfriend me if they had a different opinion. That’s kinda harsh, in my humble opinion.
This is what makes friendships RICH. And GREAT.  How boring our lives would be if we were all the same. Something along the way made us friends. And something as stupid as an opinion, even – and I’m going out on a fragile limb here – something as silly as politics – shouldn’t change our friendship. The banter that arises from it – the lessons – are supposed to teach us tolerance and understanding and with an open mind we might just see things differently than we expected. This is what I teach my children. Tolerance.
I don’t expect us all to agree. I don’t want us all to agree. But – for the love of shit – can’t we all just agree to disagree? Without insulting one another?
I’m really disappointed today. I was in a position of being attacked and morally dissected by a complete stranger a few months ago, and it put me in a guarded place. I have had friend requests from people I didn’t know and had to really think about before allowing into even my online life. I spent part of a morning deleting new friends in the diabetes community in a move of self-preservation. Over the past week, I’ve had a series of bad news. I thought about logging out of Facebook, to avoid any more blows, because emotionally I’m spent. But – like an addict – I can’t turn it off. But it is getting ever so easy to consider, given the present temperature of politics.
Dear friends, I am friends with you because of who you are – not because of who you vote for. I don’t care if you vote for Donald, or Ted, Hillary, or Bernie, or fucking Mickey Mouse. And guess what? Before I start singing happy campfire songs – I don’t care if you voted for Obama or not – it doesn’t matter if I did or not – I still think it’s pretty shitty to call our sitting president an asshole. And even shittier to call a friend as much for making a casual statement you disagree with. It makes me question how much you value me.

 

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