Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree

“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.

 

Advertisements

Unrest Documentary: Millions Missing

Unrest is a documentary, made by Jennifer Brea, who is a woman that has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In her documentary she shares what her experience with M.E. is like, as well as others experiences within the community. Unrest is a though provoking and heartbreaking film. Jennifer Brea shows the good, the bad, and the ugly, but more important she gives the viewer an honest and raw look at what it is like to live with a severe chronic illness.

 

This was definitely not an easy film to watch for many reasons, one being how it drew on my own experiences, and another being how well is shows the injustice disabled people face. Brea started an event called, “Millions Missing,” to raise awareness for myalgic encephalomyelitis. Tomorrow, May 12th, is the third annual Millions Missing protest, that aims to reach “increased government funding for research, clinical trials, medical education and public awareness.” You can become involved in the protest by going to a location near you and protesting or by letting them know you will be protesting virtually.

cfs

I am impressed with how accessible they have made this protest. Activism in general can be incredibly inaccessible, and seeing steps like these made in order to let anyone who wants to participate be a part of the event is truly amazing. Of course this is on their minds due to the whole event being about disability, but I hope to see others follow in their footsteps when it comes to making protests accessible. Jennifer Brea is a great example of what we need the leaders of disability activism to look like. She is disabled, unapologetic, and keeps others needs in mind when planning events. She also is dedicated to sharing more voices than her own, which is so so important. The disability experience is vast, and differs from person to person even when they have the same illnesses.

Millions Missing is the perfect name for this protest. It really shakes me up to think about all of the wonderful people who are “missing” from a regular life due to illness. I personally have dealt with this, being “missing” due to being mainly homebound. It’s incredibly isolating and lonely but events like this really help. Our stories are worth sharing and people should be aware of our lives. Thank you Jennifer Brea for contributing much an amazing movement!