Labour voter? Super.
Conservative voter? Fine.
Formula feeder? Excellent.
Pro-life? No problem
I believe in some of these, and some go completely against what I think. But that’s cool, because you know, personal choice and freedom.
We all have pretty strong opinions on some things. It’s natural – in fact, if you didn’t feel passionate about something, I’d probably think you were a very dull person. And of course, we all think that our belief or opinion is the right one. Otherwise, well, there wouldn’t be much point in having one.
But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with you.
You don’t have to agree with me. I will listen to you. I will discuss most things with you and engage in a respectful and mature debate. If we’re good friends and we understand each other’s sense of humour, there will probably be some cheeky but friendly banter.
But do not, under any circumstances, force your opinion on me.
That is a deal breaker for me, a friendship-ender. Whatever my thoughts are on a topic, I will never tell anyone that they are wrong and that they are stupid for having an opposing thought or belief to me. I might think it – it would be a lie to say that I wouldn’t, but I am mature and sensible enough to know that my belief is just that – MY belief.
I very recently ended a lifelong – and I mean lifelong – friendship with someone because of differing beliefs. It wasn’t the difference in beliefs that killed it, or not from my side anyway. It was the fact that they took every opportunity they possibly could to ram their beliefs, which were pretty extreme, down my throat. I knew something was brewing up to happen in the weeks leading up to it, as it felt like every status I put on Facebook had a comment or a dig on, pushing their views. It ended up in one big row, and to be honest, I feel no sadness whatsoever. In fact, I feel a sense of relief. I realised that I possibly was holding back on my own opinions and beliefs to avoid them pushing theirs on me. I couldn’t even have a discussion or debate with the people involved, because if you don’t agree with them you’re brainwashed, you’re stupid, you’re ignorant.
I am none of these. I just have a different belief.
I had no issue with what they believed in. In fact, I think I was really supportive of them – I asked them questions about it, wrote a blog post that supported it and to an extent, promoted it. Another very close friend has exactly the same belief, and other than a bit of friendly banter both ways, it’s never had any impact on our friendship because we both respect each other’s beliefs.
If someone chooses to believe in something and live a certain way, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else, it’s their choice to make.
Friendship should be based on respect for each other for who they are. My friend didn’t respect me, didn’t want me to be me. They wanted me to be someone else. That’s pretty hurtful, but I haven’t taken it personally. They’re choosing to surround themselves only with people with the same belief system, and alienating anyone who thinks differently. That’s a really unhealthy way to live.
Stupidly, their constant pushing did the opposite to what they wanted it to do. Instead of making me supportive of their choices, it’s driven me to be quite resentful and dismissive of it. The understanding and empathy that I had has gone.
I am not saying for one minute someone shouldn’t speak out for their beliefs. Quite the opposite. I’m always interested in hearing a different perspective, and I have, on the odd occasion, changed my thoughts about something. I’m open to debate and discussion. I’m not open to judgement, criticism and pushing.
You’re entitled to your beliefs…but don’t force them on me