“You can be friends with people who have different views than you. If you don’t, you’re part of the problem. Just agree to disagree.”
This is a popular sentiment I see on social media, typically coming from republican/ conservative individuals. Partially they’re right, it’s important to have a diverse group of friends who have different life experiences from you. You should have friends of different ethnicities, religions, genders, sexualities, abilities and upbringings in order to learn more about the world and how those who are different from you experience it. Except that isn’t what people actually mean when they talk about having friends with different views from you. They are talking about political affiliations specifically, and how liberal and conservative people should be able to be friends despite the others belief system.
I try my best not to completely write someone off due to their political beliefs, however I do not want to surround myself with people who think it’s okay to believe in bigoted things. I will not agree to disagree when someone else’s life, rights, or quality of life is at stake. I will not agree to disagree when you want to strip someone of their rights due to their minority status. That is not the kind of person I want in my life. Living in a fairly conservative suburb in Texas, I’ve lived with these kinds of people my entire life. That means many of my friends over the years have held some disgusting and inexcusable beliefs. After being in many friendships with those who have polar opposite beliefs from my own, I have learned that there becomes a huge divide between the two of you and the relationships often lack honesty. It’s hard to go to that friend for advice or to talk through a problem when their solution is not something you believe is morally right, or you feel judgement from them because of your own views on the situation.
The people who you allow to get close to you effect the way you think and behave. If you surround yourself with people who are homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, ableist, etc. after time you begin to become numb to their ignorance, and may even pick up on some of their tendencies.
I do think it is important to listen with an open mind to others beliefs, but that does not mean you have to surround yourself with people whose opinions you condemn. I am not the first person to say this, but agreeing to disagree works when you’re disagreeing about whether or not a certain film is good or if mayonnaise is disgusting (it totally is by the way 🙂 ) Issues like disability rights, reproductive rights, queer rights, immigration, and many others are not something to shrug off as if it isn’t a big deal. So yes, you can and should be friends with people who have different views than you, but that does not include people who have toxic views rooted in ignorance and hatred.