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.Â 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.