Friends versus Ideas

A question I often ask myself is, how do you respect someone who actively disagrees with you on topics you hold very dear?

Politics and philosophy are two points that are very close to my heart. I have strong, well-defined, informed opinions. I know I’m right, because I’ve thought them through. Yet I have friends with whom almost my only point of conversation is debate on these two subjects. That means I know they’re wrong – that either they’ve not applied themselves to thinking about the issue, which is bad, or that they’ve thought it through and come to the wrong conclusion, giving weight to the wrong ideals and following the wrong logic. That’s worse.

Of course, I have more in common and more respect for those who think and disagree with me than with the other kind of dissenter. But I often wonder – how? When these things are important to me, when they are, as it were, policy decisions, how does one simply say different people have different opinions and continue to remain friends with people you disagree with?

This is a very simplified description of the way India and Pakistan can point to their common heritage as much as they want, but a handful of points of political and policy difference – and some wars, of course – are enough to make us permanent enemies.

Yet I have at least three incredibly close friends and at least two god-like mentor figure who hold strong views on politics – both actual events and abstract theories – which are diametrically opposite to my own. I still hold them in the highest regard.

I wonder how that is? How is it that I can hold my ideals absolutely dear to my soul, refuse to let anything taint or tarnish them, yet I can care deeply for people who think they are flawed in themselves?

When I know that, I’ll know everything.

Posted in Random | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Friends versus Ideas

  1. Person says:

    The key to understanding this lies in your statement: “I know I’m right, because I’ve thought this through”.

    The mere fact that one has thought through something (and therefore made it “right”) doesn’t give one a monopoly over the idea of morality.

    Reality is subjective; experiences of even seemingly “objective” things such as disasters, inflation, etc vary widely. The mark of intellectual maturity is realigning one’s thoughts to this.

    Just my two paise.

    • Priya K says:

      I accept that, which is why I’m friends with literally dozens of people I don’t agree with on key issues :) The question I had the day I wrote this is – at what point does friendship still hold sway? Aren’t there some principles everyone has that they’d be willing to die for? And if those are in direct opposition to the ones your friends have… what then? And doesn’t this apply even in less drastic circumstances?

      In any case, I would disagree on your point of subjective truth. If everything is subjective and nothing is concrete, that would mean there’s nothing I can really believe in, because there’s no such thing as truth or reality – and I can’t live with that. Not that that’s a problem of course, “believing” that reality is objective is always an option – considering that by this philosophy, there’s no such thing as unchangeable fact anyway, and either view must (by definition) have equal value!

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