Just because we don’t like someone’s opinion, doesn’t mean we can’t build and enjoy friendships with them. It’s important for us to separate people from their ideas.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: Hi Brittany.
Brittany: So today I wanna talk about something that has to do with a book. Connor wrote actually, and he wrote, it came out I think 20 getting of 2021, mid-21. But its rules for teens how not to suck at life is what I think it’s called. We’ll, put a link to it, but it’s filled with so much good advice, advice that I wish I had at the time. So I wanna talk about one of the important things he touches on. So let’s answer the question, why should we fight ideas instead of people? Now in Connor’s book, this is, based on a chapter called Your Enemy Might Be Your Friend. And I think it’s very, very important right now because we have seen our country and even our world become extremely divided. And it’s so easy to say like, oh, that person doesn’t think like me. I don’t wanna be their friend. So we all have passionate beliefs, you know, we all have a value system we believe in, and that’s not going to be the same as other people. That doesn’t mean that they are bad. And this is something it took me even, it took me even my adult years to learn, it is so easy to become just so angry at people and you prioritize the beliefs over people. Right. Sometimes you people even cut them out of your life just because they have different views. So here’s an example. When I first became a libertarian, when I first got into Ron Paul, I started thinking that I knew everything which could get us into another, which is always known that somebody else has something to teach you. But, so I started thinking I was smarter than everyone. I thought that if you were not a libertarian, you were a bad person, cuz you did not see the world as I see it. And to be fair like I do, I do think I’m right, right? Like every they’re right. But that doesn’t mean one that the other person doesn’t have something you can learn from them. That might not even be political. It might be something about character building or just how to be a good friend. But I also, I was, I stopped talking to people. I lost a lot of friends for a few reasons. One, because I was very arrogant. I thought I knew everything and I wasn’t listening, I was just talking. And the other reason was because I again assumed that if they didn’t think the way I thought, that they were bad people. And so I needed to cut them out of my life. And that’s just, it’s so sad to me when I think of friendships I missed out on because I would rather value what I believed instead of realizing that I believe what I believed and I do think I’m right, but I’m not respecting that you know, I can have relationships with people that have nothing to do with politics. So, Emma, do you have any examples? I’m gonna put you on the spot here. Do you have any?
Emma: Yeah, totally. It’s, so tough because I have experienced this personally and it’s kind of been a different situation than what you were explaining. It’s tough because I grew up in Portland, Oregon, which is a very, very, left-leaning Yes. Kind of democrat environment. And I didn’t really get interested in political stuff until about 2015. I was finishing high school and I was also taking some college classes and got really interested in the election and what was going on. And for reference, that’s when there were all of these Republicans running and Donald Trump was one of them. No one thought he was gonna win the primary, and then he became the president, which surprised a ton of people. And it was a really weird time to start, you know, keeping up with politics and speaking my mind on stuff here or there. And I had some friends that I’d been friends with for a really long time that when they realized that I was not a Hillary Clinton supporter, really were upset with me and even kind of made fun of me. And it was this whole thing. And I don’t say this to, you know, paint myself as a victim. It’s something that everyone deals with sometimes in life is problems with friends and conflict. But unfortunately, you know, I had some of those friendships where we were able to kind of move past it and they realized, okay, you’re not a bad person. We just disagree on this one thing. But I had some friends that we never really hung out with after that because I think they were not interested in being around someone that they saw as a bad person because of what I believe. So that’s how this whole idea of what we’re talking about became so important to me, is I really, really respect and love having friends who disagree with me on stuff. But where we have an understanding of we can still be friends, whether that’s, you know, one or two important issues or you know, something as important as your religion and what you believe about the world and how we got here and those sorts of things. But also politics. I think it’s, so important to be able to be around people who disagree with you and to have friends who can respectfully disagree and still know that you’re still worth being friends with. It’s, huge.
Brittany: I think you’re absolutely right. And I think we saw a big, I mean, it’s always been around, right? There’s always been people who were, divided by politics. And I’ll get into that In a minute or in a couple of minutes. But, during the Trump years, like you brought up. So it was a good segue into this. That’s when the country, I think became even more divided. Yeah. There’s always been divisions, but this was a big one because it became, if you liked Trump or if you didn’t, even if you didn’t hate Trump right then you were evil. Or even, you know, people thought like, if you didn’t hate Trump if you weren’t constantly posting about Trump, then you were a Nazi. You were literal. Yes. Like Nazi. So very hyperbolic, hyperbolic means like way overblown. Right. It just, it’s pretty ridiculous. So there were even articles that suggested cutting out family members and friends who aren’t, and I’m saying this in scare quotes, woke, you know, we’ve talked about this term before, people who virtue signal and think if you don’t, if you don’t believe in all these progressive values that that you are a literally a bad person. And it’s just, can you imagine cutting out family because of their beliefs? But I also wanna touch on, this doesn’t just happen in progressives. I used to be a fan of a philosopher named, I guess you’d call him a father named Stephan Monu. And some people are still friends or you know, followers of him. But it got really scary when he said you should do something called de fing is what he called it. And that is that if your parent or if your family or whatever didn’t believe in like, in the same principle like Liberty principles or even Ron Paul, that you should cut them out because they’re bad people. They’re abusive people because they don’t believe in what you believe in. And that is so scary to me, but a lot of people bought into it. And when we do this, we are dehumanizing people. Dehumanizing means we’re not thinking of them as human beings anymore. Right. We are all flawed and we all do bad things, but if we reduce somebody down, if we say that they’re all a person’s identity is only what their political views are, that’s really scary. Cuz we’re missing out on all the other things that make them human. And we’re also missing out on friendships that might be rewarding or spending, like a lot of people, stopped spending holidays with their families. Yeah. Because they didn’t believe the same way. And that’s just so sad to me. Yeah. So Emma, any suggestions on how we can actually do this? How can we put this into practice? How do we separate people from their politics or their, their views?
Emma: Yeah, I mean, it’s a tough question, but I think one of the best ways you can do this is to try to make friends that see the world differently than you. This is something that I really try to implement in my own life and meeting people outside of my little political circle of libertarian friends, I love them. They’re awesome people. And you know, it’s good to have people you agree with too, that you’re friends with. But I think seeking out people that, that maybe our views are a little bit different is a really good way to get out of your comfort zone and see people for who they are rather than, you know, the views and the positions that they hold. Because the fact is, you know, for a lot of people, their views are actually very flexible and they are willing to be proven wrong and maybe change their mind on stuff. So if you really want to make a difference in the world and, and spread the ideas that you believe in, you have to be willing to talk to people who disagree with you. Otherwise, you know, people who love liberty and believe in limited government, there’s only gonna be so many of us. Yeah. We need to be able to make friends with other people and talk about things openly. And I think also realizing, like this was a big one for me, realizing that if someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t mean that they dislike you. Not necessarily. Some people are like that and that’s unfortunate. But a lot of people are able to respectfully disagree without disliking each other and just learning to let go of that and be comfortable and stand firm in what you believe in. But don’t think that just because someone, you know, sees this one thing differently than you, then you’re just destined to be enemies and you have to fight with each other. It’s, really important to, you know, see people as human beings rather than just either friend or foe. And also, one more thing I’ll say on this is that being around people that disagree with you respectfully and being able to talk about things, it’s not like I think you should just sit around and talk about politics all day. I do not recommend that that is not a great way to have fun with your friends. But when these things come up, being ready to defend your point of view and explain why you believe what you believe is actually going to make you a better messenger for your ideas. If we never have to explain what we believe or why we believe it, we’re not gonna be very good at it. When someone asks us, maybe they’re curious about liberty or about limited government and personal responsibility, but if we don’t understand why we believe in those things, we’re not gonna be able to actually help them understand. So that’s kind of my 2 cents on that.
Brittany: That’s such a good point cuz you, like you said, talking through your ideas with people who don’t agree with you, actually make your ideas stronger and it makes you’re better able to convey to explain what you believe. So one really good example of this, and Connor and I did a whole episode on this a while ago, was, so Supreme Court Justice, they both have passed away now. Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, they did not agree on hardly anything like they were on opposite sides of the political spectrum but they were known in the court for having an amazing friendship. Their family spent like every New Year’s Eve together, they like went to the opera together. So they were so close and they didn’t agree, like sometimes it got really heated in the courtroom, but that never stopped their friendship even until their final days. They were like best friends. And so a lot of people look to them as like, oh my goodness, look, you can be friends with people you don’t agree with. Another example is, and we, I think Connor and I talked about this as well in that same episode, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, you know, they started out as two people who were dedicated to the revolution. They wanted American independence and they wanted the ability to live freely. But they had different ideas of how you came about that. In fact, at one point John Adams was even like, we need a king, let’s be a monarch again. And you know, Jefferson was very much like Jefferson was pretty much a libertarian. I’m like, no, we don’t need that. You know, we need a little rebellion every now and then. So while they were close, they stopped talking for, I think it was like several decades. Yeah. And then towards the end of their life, they started writing again and they started just reflecting on their lives and how much they meant to each other. And this is always a beautiful story cuz they died on the same day hours apart. Yes. I was gonna say on July 4th. And it’s like one of those stories, you’re like, this isn’t real. This is too poetic to be real. So that’s one of my favorite stories. But one reason I bring this up is they lost years of wonderful friendship because they were being stubborn, right? and John Adams was especially known for being very stubborn, but they were fortunate enough to, at the end of their lives, write letters and clear the air and realized that, oh my goodness, like we should have been friends this whole time. And it just always makes me think, like, imagine being on your deathbed and you’re looking back at your life and you’re thinking like, I had so many great friends that I didn’t keep because I was so dedicated to, you know, my beliefs that I stopped looking at people’s humans. So I think this is a really good lesson for us to learn, especially now and as, especially as our listeners are really forming their ideas and starting to make friends who might have different ideas. I think this is a really important thing to take into your life. So, Emma, I’ll throw it back to you, if you have any closing thoughts.
Emma: Yeah, I mean, I’ll just kind of agree with what you’re saying there. It’s so unfortunate when people let things as trivial and as, passing, as politics get in the way of relationships. And I’m not saying that politics is not an important thing to know about or to stand firm in what you believe is not important. That’s super important. And we really need people to do that, especially in this day and age when so many things are going crazy with our government. So you don’t have to choose between, you know, fighting for the ideas that you believe in and seeing people as human beings. And I think if you need an example of this, look back to the abolitionists like Frederick Douglass who were fighting to end slavery. The things that they were fighting were so evil and it was such an important fight, but they never lost sight of other people as human beings and as their friends and as their equals. And I think that’s really important when you’re talking about advocating for certain ideas or fighting against certain ideas, it’s really important to remember that, you know, we are all affected by the same laws in at least in this country. You know, country to country is different, but we’re all being affected in similar ways and we have way more friends than we think we do. And don’t let something like politics come in between you and seeing someone else as a human being. So that’s where we’ll wrap it up today, guys. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you, Brittany, for talking through this with me. And we will talk to you guys all again soon.
Brittany: Talk to you soon.