In the wake of the tragic events in Connecticut yesterday, my heart goes out to the parents and families of the children, teachers and school personnel that lost their lives. I’m not a parent, so I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have my heart and soul ripped out like that. But it brings a lot of emotions to the forefront, a lot of fear, a lot of anger, and a lot of helplessness. And in America, when we feel helpless, we lash out blindly at whatever is nearest, even if they’re our friends. So you’ll see a lot of wide-ranging things on Facebook over the next week or so that will piss you off, hurt your feelings, and make you re-think people you thought were your friends.
Don’t be the person that refuses to be friends with someone because they are blind on one issue, or because when they feel that an important part of their lifestyle is under attack, that they respond in kind. Take a step back, remember why you’re friends with that person, and see if there’s more than one reason. There probably is. If there are more reasons to be friends with them than there are reasons not to, then you should still be friends.
A very personal example of this is my friend Special K and I. I consider K to be one of my best friends in the world. He’s one of the guys that no matter what I need, I know I can call him and he’ll be there as soon as possible. We disagree politically more than pretty much anyone else I associate with. There’s almost no point in a political discussion that we come down on the same side on. In today’s world of wall posts, de-friending and snap judgements, there’s no way he and I should still be friends. But we are.
Because our friendship is real, and exists outside of a computer program.
Now I’m not saying that simply because you’ve accepted a friend request from someone that you ride the elevator or subway with each morning and have never spoken three words to outside of your commute, that you should listen to any kind of craziness that they’re spewing. But I am saying that if there are people that you’ve broken bread with, drank a beer with, laughed with, and had meaningful contact with – you should maybe not have a knee-jerk reaction to something they spew out on Facebook in a time of high emotion.
We need our friends. We may not need everyone that the computer tells us is a friend, but the real ones are worth more than just a button-click whenever they say something to piss you off. A real friend is someone like me & K, who can argue vehemently opposing positions, but still drink a beer together, watch a football game together, and be there for each other. Friend is a word that has a lot of meaning to me, and it’s used too lightly for my taste, but it’s one of the most important jobs that you can have. Don’t fire a real one over a political disagreement. Real friends argue.
This was not what I planned to write about. At some point in the next few days I’ll polish up my nascent idea for reforming gun control laws in the US that will likely make no one happy on any side of the issue, but I think is fair to everyone. I’m not quite ready to put that out there, and it still feels a little too soon, so I’ll let it percolate for a couple more days. For now, hug somebody you care about.