Can't We All Just Get Along?
written by Laramie:
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Have you ever met people who immediately seemed like the kind you would like to get to know better? People who share many of your interests, who like to do the same things you like to do, and so you just seem to hit it off with them right away. So thing go along real good for a while. But pretty soon, as you get to know them better, subtly, but progressively, you begin to find out things about them on a personal level that, ever so slightly at first, eventually strikes a nerve. Maybe they have done things in their past that you don't approve of, legally or morally, or they have a history of personal relationships that seem strange to you. What you become aware of could be in the nature of anything that goes against your grain. And one day, when you really get to know them, you find out about their political or religious or some other views that are 180 degrees different than yours.
Most of the time, since you enjoy their company, you can have friendly discussions, exchanging your differences, politely disagreeing, but making it clear that you do not share their opinions. And if you are lucky, they too will express the belief that they are also just expressing personal opinions, and not that their views are ultimate truths that imply that all other beliefs are simply false. And as long as this is their approach, the two of you can maintain friendly, open disagreement on many topics. But one day you begin to see these people have no patience with anyone who disagrees with them, with anyone who can't see that, clearly, they have all the right answers and they can't understand how anyone could be so ignorant as to not see things the way they see them. They give isolated instances and events and illustrations that prove they are right. Their logic is infallible. They are right, and you, who disagree with them, are wrong. Simply ask them and they will give you a list of facts. How could anyone not see things their way?
At this point in what was once a blossoming friendship, things begin to get a little testy. What were once enjoyable outings together slowly turn into repeats of their efforts to reinvent you in their likeness, to convince you of the truth of their convictions. Time is spent in even heated disagreement and slowly developing resentment over their inability to understand the different perspectives people have. They wonder how people could be so stupid.
Slowly, but surely, these once close friends become hard to deal with. Their constant preoccupation with indoctrination on their terms begins to get more than slightly uncomfortable. It begins to get downright unpleasant. And again you ask yourself if it's worth it. Do you really want to spend your time around these people whose goal in life appears to be to show you the error of your ways and to lead you down the path of truth, their truth. No longer are there enjoyable times together, going places you both like to visit, doing things that were once highlights in your day. You stop looking forward to visits, finding excuses for not getting together, dreading even talking to the person for fear a new discussion about an old problem with the same result will start up.
Sadly, the time comes when you really don't want to have any contact with these people. You've had it. It's more than you can or even want to take. It's over. What could have been a lifetime association of pleasantly shared experiences has turned into a nightmare. You lay awake at night dreading when they might call, or that you'll run into them in a store or restaurant. You feel terrible about what's happening, but you can't seem to stop mulling over all the issues involved. You try not to dwell on how unpleasant the situation turned out, but you can't get it out of your mind. You don't know what to do. You begin to think that you should call them and explain what you're going through and why. But you realize that no amount of explanation would be of any use. Some minds can't be changed. And if you attempt to change them, the only result is resentment and disappointment and failure.
Pretty soon you start thinking about the situation objectively. And that's not easy. You wonder, can it be that they might be seeing you in the same way. Maybe they judge that you are the uncompromising one, always wanting to discuss, maybe argue is a better word, over controversial and emotional issues. Maybe you are the one with the unreasonable viewpoints. What makes you think that believing that an open mind on every topic is a good thing. Riding the fence on issues is not necessarily the greatest tactic. Maybe you see yourself as expressing truths when you say they are only giving opinions rather than truths. Maybe they are right. Are your firmly held beliefs any more the truth than the other person's strongly held convictions? Human beings are prone at times to disagree, to be opinionated, with a belief that their ideas are on firm footing. But what they really want, and desperately, is to have credibility, to be believed, to be heard, to have others want to hear their opinions, and to value their advice. But some people just don't want to listen. Isn't it a funny world? Maybe Bob Dylan meant that when he told his girlfriend, in song, "I woke up in the mornin', there's frogs inside my socks. Your Mama, she's a-hidin', inside the ice box. Your Daddy walks in wearing a Napoleon Bonaparte mask. You ask me why I don't live here, honey do you have to ask?"
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