It's Okay to End Friendships Over Opposing Political Views
These last couple of months have been tense over here in my country. Late last year, presidential bids were made, and eventually, the people of the Philippines already had their own bets based on their views and preferences. Right away, arguments sprouted online with no remorse—in the form of memes, shitposting, callouts, trolls (paid or otherwise), and more. These arguments were especially rampant among the supporters of two specific aspirants, but I'm not going to dwell on that for I want everyone (not just Filipinos) to be able to relate to this article.
What happened was this: Friends “unfriended” and unfollowed each other over varying opinions. At first, both parties believed that they could still convince each other to find a common ground. When it became clear that it wouldn't happen, and henceforth when one of their bets started leading the electoral results, things started getting pretty ugly. Obviously, matters as big as national elections do bring out the best and worst in people's emotions. Many were distraught over the results while many gloated them (us, because I'm part of that crowd) about it.
Allow me to make the point of how friends who laugh at your grievance are no friends at all. That is, I suppose, the first reason why I myself unfollowed many peers and even people I've known for about a decade after they made fun of my frustrations. The second one is because your political stance defines your moral stance. As a queer person, my existence itself is a subject of politics to many. I had my identity be a topic of debate among my cisgender and heterosexual peers, with arguments about whether or not my community should exist at all and why we are as worse as actual criminals. As the passing years contributed to my maturity, I accepted the fact that the majority of this country (as religious as it is) will never truly understand the queer experience. What I don't accept, however, is the fact that people around me don't see me as their equal only because I am a part of a community they are choosing not to understand and, frankly, choosing to demonize. I will not sit here and befriend someone who thinks I should burn in hell or someone who thinks I am less and dirty because they don't understand me. For the times I've expressed this, I've had people come to me and tell me that these are nothing but their political stance and that they value me but not my community as a whole. Typing this now, that whole sentiment still makes me cringe. How could you support just me when I am not just myself, but my entire community?
You are offending what I stand for, and for that, we cannot be friends. The same idea goes with “preferences” during elections. If you are advocating for a candidate with a tainted record and whose family stole billions from the people, then it is indeed past my moral compass to still have connections with you. If you make fun of my grief over the victory of a man whose very name tainted blood over my own countrymen in the past, then it is no doubt that we are in two completely different bubbles who value completely different things. Now, don't get the wrong idea. I didn't write this article to prove that you can only cut ties with someone when you have superior beliefs or that you are in the right. No, this is only to indicate that some of us just have different political ideologies and, by extension, different moral compasses. Surely, we can disagree, but I mean that in a way that I shouldn't be forced to still be friends with you afterward. I don't know about you, but I really do find peace knowing that I'm only surrounded by people who challenge my thinking without invalidating my sense of morality.
Some would argue with this and say that breaking bonds would ruin societies or countries more. We only have each other at the end of the political hierarchy anyway. I don't intend to counter that, but I tell you this: I told you to shut the door, but don't lock it. If, at some point, those friends of yours—or you, yourself—find themselves down the same paths again, with one of you changing their views along the way, then feel free to rekindle what you had if you're comfortable with that idea. This generation seems to act like its people know it all and that it's everyone's responsibility to force others into believing what they believe in. What we fail to comprehend is that our beliefs were shaped by more elements than we can count. Some would say this should spark understanding, but I say that the best choice would be to simply pick your people—those who think alike in ways that matter, but those that would still dare to get you out of your thinking bubble. Don't close your mind for all of us have so much to learn.
Overall, what matters is this: Protect your peace. Extend your mind and open it for the possibilities, but only engage with people who want to argue for the sake of learning and not just for cheap banter. In today's age, all sorts of information could easily be fed to us and so it becomes our job to become more vigilant than we already were. Analyze said information and help each other. If help isn't working anymore and if opposing beliefs start breaking moral understanding, then perhaps it's time to consider cutting ties. Don't regret it nor don't feel too much pride when someone does it to you before you could do it to them. After all, it's only a matter of choosing your people, those who can stand beside you in the end.