I’m seeing this a lot lately given the existing climate.

Look, it’s social media, so you’re well within your right to connect with or sever connections with whomever you’d like. I just hope that when you demand that people who think differently than you be more open-minded, and then say things like the title of this post, you see the irony.

I am fortunate to have close friends (and family) who hold opposite beliefs to my own. And yes, they believe/post/say things that make me bristle or cringe sometimes.

One of my lifelong best friends stands on almost the exact opposite political side of pretty much every major issue than I do. We grew up together, played on teams together, and went to college together. While at college, we would go to lunch at least once a week and discuss these issues.

We’d walk across campus, observing people of all kinds of backgrounds, appearances, and behavior, which would often spark conversations on how we see the world. Rarely did we think exactly the same.

But here’s the beauty of it all. When I look back on our conversations and disagreements, they were free of the negativity you see on social media.

No name calling. No fighting. No unfriending. We would just talk. Like two adults. About issues we cared passionately about, and we’d share why we felt the way we did. We listened to each other and, while I don’t think either one of us changed the other’s mind, I understand a little better why some people relate to or believe things differently than I do (and it wasn’t because they are ‘evil’).

I’m fortunate enough to have other very close friends similar to the one mentioned above. We play on teams together. We work together. We hang out with our families together. When heated topics come up in the world, I call those on the opposite side, and we talk. I ask them to help me understand the side they tend to agree with. They listen to my side. It’s wonderful.

My opinions on life, love, religion, politics, work, and everything else have evolved dramatically after experiencing life. I don’t believe the same things I did as a teenager… or as a college student… or when I was a single person… or when I was married with no kids… or as a father of 1, 2, and then 3 kids… or as an entry-level employee…

As we experience more of life, many of our beliefs will change, and that’s okay.

Embrace friendships and connections with those who think differently than yourself and welcome conversations with them. The trick is, it is okay for people to think differently than you. They are not stupid/evil/uneducated/brainwashed just as you feel you aren’t any of those things.

Create conversations where you can both feel safe, where you can both feel heard, and where you can both try to understand without hate. After having a conversation with me where we don’t agree, who knows, maybe with a little reflection and life experience, I may start to believe the same thing you do (and vice versa).

Do we need core values to hold on to?
Yes, and I think they are surprisingly simple (and straight from the pre-school playground).

Be nice
Don’t hurt people
Don’t take their stuff
Say please
Say thank you

Imagine where the world would be if we could just follow those 8 simple rules.

I won’t unfriend you for thinking or acting differently than I do, yes, even if I consider what you do or say to be terrible. And if you want to unfriend me for this, well, so be it.

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