Some things you just don’t talk about. Even with your friends. If you want to keep them. Politics and religion – especially when combined – can ruin a friendship faster than a comparison between Jeff Gordon and Dale Junior.
There are exceptions, of course. But the general rule is a good one. Stating one’s position publicly – especially when you’re still new to your friendships, can be disastrous to the relationship.
Here, I am at a distinct disadvantage.
I’ve tried to be careful with my new crop of friends. But my views on just about everything have been well-documented. (I know. I documented them.) That’s what happens when you write everything down and post it for public consumption.
Religion: Christian, specifically Southern Baptist.
Politics: Uber conservative. (Republican Party suffices only because there’s no viable alternative.)
Sports: It’s all NFL. Specifically the Redskins. Unless the Cowboys are playing. Then it’s whomever the Cowboys are playing.
Those basic facts – simple to learn via several electronic venues – paint a clear (some might say “obvious”) picture of who I am, what I believe, and where I probably stand on virtually every current issue. No sense in hiding. It’s going to come out.
The good news for my new friends is that I’m not a complicated guy. There is no secret code to decipher. No layers upon layers to peel. No extended metaphors to politely tolerate. The combination of basic factoids presented above really should provide a clear picture of where I might come down on just about any issue.
For instance: Conservative + Redskins = ?
It is entirely true that I prefer vanilla shakes with no accouterments.
(That bit probably isn’t as funny as it sounds in my head – but what do you expect from a nearly middle-aged white guy who grew up in the South and supports literally every pro football team except Dallas?)
I am sure my positions on a wide range of issues will not surprise anyone. I am equally sure my positions on some fairly controversial issues would surprise everyone. But, for new, untested friendships still in the works, would they be deal-breakers?
I’ve watched relationships with decades behind them simply crumble, as one party walks away over a slight the other party doesn’t even understand. Once, someone I know lost his best friend of more than 10 years simply for sharing with them a deeply personal experience. Though he was raised Catholic, he’d never truly accepted Christ in his heart. When that moment finally arrived – the first person he shared it with walked away angry. Years later, that wound hasn’t completely healed. I doubt it ever will.
In my youth, I saw things in stark contrast. Right and wrong. Good and bad. Republican and Democrat. (Ironically, it took a five-year stint working inside a religious-conservative political machine to recognize and embrace nuance.)
Today, my universal position on all but two things is this: I possess strongly held beliefs obtained through years of experience, study and constant exposure to clever memes. I’m willing to listen to anyone on any subject if (a) they’re willing to listen to me AND (b) willing to agree to disagree and leave it to the ballot box.
Two areas where there can be no compromise: Redskins and Jesus. Just sayin’.