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question about a problem in friendships


LaLa
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This is probably quite strange to ask on a forum like this, but that's why I'm posting it under "Lounge"

I wonder if you'd be willing to share your opinions / experiences about this: What if you suddenly find out that your friend or family member has some outrageous opinions? Of course I have a particular case in mind, but take the question in general, if you like. Or if you prefer an example, imagine (as many of you are Americans and all the others surely "know something about" the US presidential elections) that someone relatively close to you admires Donald Trump and agrees with him about all the horrible stuff he says about Muslims, Mexicans, refugees, ... Imagine it's not a person you're in personal contacts with, you meet them just very seldom, but used to be very close in the past, when you used to be together quite often.

I was in such situation some time ago and... I'm not sure if I'm really much surprised, but... I wouldn't guess how I would react. I did almost nothing, I just listened and later said some very mild remarks suggesting that I didn't agree, while they had "an answer" to all of them, dismissing everything by absurd "arguments". It would take days if not weeks to explain them that they were totally wrong - if it's even possible - because they are already... "like brainwashed". Nobody brainwashed them; they probably just happen to read very bad internet sources. I might at least start e-mailing them articles and interviews showing them "the other sides of the problems"! It would probably be rational; a good thing to do. But probably in vain. Or is it just my inherent pessimism?? Moreover, I somehow don't want to contact them anymore at all. (Yet, it's part of our family (not "my blood", at least - from "the other side of the family")... so we probably will be in contact sometimes.) You may say politics isn't a reason to cut a relationship. Fair enough. But... I'm reluctant to write it but that person also said, in the context of our talk, about the refugees arriving to Europe: "I would go and personally shoot them down." This is something just I can't "tolerate". Yet I didn't react; I was in a silent awe. And I didn't react even later, by e-mail. Was it worth a reaction? Am I somehow complicit by my silence? The person isn't really going anywhere and doesn't have a gun, so... perhaps it "doesn't matter so much" what I "do about it". But "the silence of the masses" is a terrible factor in every horrendous historical event...

Perhaps I "should" say I wasn't always "totally silent": Last year (quite a long time ago already), I wrote a blog post (on a public blog (on a newspaper site) in my mother tongue) about the importance of a positive attitude towards refugees and the dangers of a hostile approach to them. It was totally in vain, of course, because "not enough" people read it and those who commented were against me (and posted sometimes even rather abusive comments). I had planned to write much more articles about the topic but was "unable" to do it, mostly because of my "depression"; my self-hate, procrastination, pessimism, lack of any feeling of sense or meaning, ... Writing is terribly difficult for me, it takes too much time and I can't find it. And I'm not motivated either. Almost everything is "in vain", in my eyes.

Sorry; this was supposed to be just about the one topic and now I'm writing so much about myself and about irrelevant stuff. How typical. One of the reasons I usually avoid posting here about myself... *sigh*

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First of all, LaLa, good for you that this hateful talk bothers you.

It shows you have a kind heart.

I don't think you're obligated to maintain a relationship with this archconservative.

Personally, i don't even see anything wrong with you "telling him off;"

it's just that it won't change his mind or quiet him down.

But you're not obligated to Take A Stand, either, if you're uncomfortable doing so.

Me, i'm pretty uninhibited about stepping up to bad political comments

(and i've found both liberals and conservatives who were guilty of them),

but that's me. My years as a bullied teenager have given me a taste for confrontation.

If you're silent, you're not tacitly giving approval; you're just staying in your comfort zone.

If you want to take a stand, you can do it non-verbally.

Volunteer at a center for immigrants. Learn Spanish. Join an interfaith organization.

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I have been in similar situatons with family members and friends. I have been working on expressing my opinions, but this isn't easy for me. I personally wouldn't try to change another person's opinions (I don't think we can anyway), but I would try to openly express mine. What does your heart tell you, LaLa? I do think we have a choice in how much we want to interact with another person or how close we'd want to be with that person. So, if I were in your position, I would probably be polite but keep my distance...

I really like TooOld4this's suggestion of taking action to express your beliefs and to make change in a direction that you'd want. I need to do more of this myself and I have actually been thinking a lot about that recently. I have many good intentions, but I need to put those intentions into action. I had a friend who did this so often and I find it inspiring. This is a way to help create change instead of just talking and dreaming about it (talking to myself here).

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I would think, IJ, that New York has many community organizations you could join.

For what it's worth, though, i think political parties and activist groups are not a good choice.

They seem to be filled with people who only want to hang out with people like themselves,

and who enjoy demonizing people different from themselves. Too much Groupthink.

And again, there are both conservative and liberal groups who do this.

Going to Jewish services and events has been beneficial for me, as i'm not Jewish.

I also attended services at an Ethiopian Orthodox church.

Both forced me to get out of my comfort zone, and exposed me to other religious traditions.

That's just one example, though.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Oh my goodness, I have not been here in...what...2 years?...and this is the post that I decide to go to.  I choose to believe that I have improved somewhat...or perhaps only in this particular moment...that I decided to visit 'The Lounge', the 'not so serious' place. 

Anyway, back to your topic.  I think why this bothers you so much Lala is that criticizing others for their beliefs is easy.  Ignoring or belittling others' beliefs is easy.  It also has been proven in studies that those who are 'critics' are perceived to be more intelligent.  When in fact they may in reality be less intelligent.  So don't worry about speaking up and expressing your views.  If they criticize or refuse to be open to your point of view, that is their loss for failing to hear something that may be very informative.  I think most emotionally healthy people really don't worry that much about what others think of them.  So they can probably take it.  My guess is somebody who feels Trump would be a good president probably doesn't think they are emotionally disturbed.  (Even if that may in fact appear to be the case, from the observer's point of view!)  Therefore, no harm done if you speak up and express yourself. 

Warning: I have had the flu for two months and feel slightly better rIGHT NOW and oops, sorry, the cat just jumped on my 'shift' button so please don't take offense to the caps there, I am NOT yelling at you!   So...feeling a little better, I am indulging in a glass of wine with some very old, very sharp parmasian cheese and it would appear that I don't know how to spell it given the squiggly red line (no I don't think its the wine affecting my eyes).  Anyway, if none of this makes sense then I hope I have provided an adequate excuse.

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Hi, Athena! It's nice to see you here again :) , mainly feeling "improved" and in such a good mood!

Sorry for making your experience here, in The Lounge, less enjoyable... Anyway; thanks for your input and also for cheering me up with your 3rd paragraph ;) .

 

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