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Another Friendship Falls Victim To Politics

March 25, 2016

The other day I received an email from a former friend expounding the virtues of defeating the Keystone Pipeline Project. Granted, this person works in the left wing fringe of our government. However, I replied to the email in earnest stating that as a former petroleum environmental consultant, I thought the Keystone Pipeline was much needed for our energy independence and that it’s hindrance by the Obama administration was just plain stupid. I also stated that buying oil abroad can actually put money in the pockets of ISIS. It was an honest opinion backed by many years working in the petroleum industry and dealing with world-wide oil and gas economics. On many issues, I am liberal; on others I am conservative. On the subject of energy independence, I yield no ground and believe we must provide all of our energy needs here in the USA.

Boom! Within a couple of hours my response had been forwarded to just about everyone in our group of old surfer friends from the 1960s. Immediately, I received an email titled “Big Oil” from another friend accusing me of watching too much FOX News and calling me basically dumb and uninformed. This friend with a small “f” then proceeded to insult me personally belittling my political opinions and then my history as a surfer. Finally he went on maligning my books and internet articles on surfing. Why? Apparently my political views were not politically correct and in keeping with his California left wing thinking. My response was equally swift: “Have a nice day!”

I have always thought of politics as a separate issue that should not impinge on personal relationships. I wrongly believed that we could all live in harmony with differing views. Apparently, I was wrong. Having an opposing political view is now not politically correct. Both sides of the political spectrum are to blame; there is too much political vitreous in our lives these days and way too little tolerance. I thought that in a democracy we could all have our own opinions and contrasting views. Again, I was wrong. Today both sides of the political spectrum seem to insist there is no room for compromise or dissension. Moreover, it seems that people can’t be friends if they don’t think identically in the world of politics. The result: another “friendship” bites the dust.

I do not believe that our founding fathers envisioned division of our nation based upon political difference. Rather, I think they encouraged political dialogue without retribution. I think that Franklin, Hamilton and their entire lot would be disgusted at the way we have evolved. Our unity, which has made us a great nation, has been supplanted by party affiliation and intolerance. Name calling has become the norm of today. That is a shame in every sense of the word.

This is not the first time that a friendship has been tested by politics. Another friend of 50 plus years insulted me a couple of years ago in a like manner because we had different political views. He is left thinking and I am right thinking. His final salvo was that I was probably “a Tea Party guy.” I took the insult as a compliment but almost lost a much loved friend in the end. I saved this relationship with a very long distance phone call in which I bluntly stated that a half century of friendship should not be erased by political beliefs. He concurred. At least there were two of us that could agree. I guess I’m an iconoclastic conservative at the end of the day. I feel I can tolerate the views of all of my conservative and liberal friends alike without acrimony or regret. Maybe I listened to too much “Ebony and Ivory”…. who knows? At any rate I believe that friendships and human interaction are more important than politics…. way more important! The trouble is that many of the people I’ve known for decades don’t agree.

It is vexing and a bit depressing, really. Decades of relationships and friendships are now held hostage to politics on a daily basis. Smug political persuasion has now replaced common decency and interpersonal accord. The meaning of friendship appears to have been lost in the shuffle.

What do you think? Should political persuasion trump friendships? (I hope not!)

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  1. If you don’t want political or religious differences to interfere with your friendships, the solution is simple. DON’T GO THERE in conversations! Stick to whatever the original basis for your friendship was, whatever it was you shared in common. It’s unrealistic to expect your surfing pals to agree with you about other things. And most friends resent it when you treat them like an “audience” to be persuaded.


  2. permalink

    Allen, Good post. It is a sad state of affairs, especially this year. The entire election process should be shortened – maybe then we would have less rancor. By the way, re pipeline – Keystone would have represented less than 9% of all the pipeline currently in the US. Nello

    Liked by 1 person

    • allenrizzi permalink

      Nello, I think we should take what ever percentages are on the table, big or small. The US must become energy independent and a net energy exporter if we are to maintain our position in the world. I am also for all manner of “clean energy” production. Going a bit further, I have often said that we should switch our entire governmental motor pool and all trucks and buses to natural gas. We have enormous gas reserves and we could cut the cord to Mideast oil once and for all.


  3. David Dalsis permalink

    We always get along because I convince you that I am right!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Clifford Wicks permalink

    This is an excellent article. I saw it referenced on a twitter page I visited. Sometimes just asking questions instead of disagreeing can be an option. For example, when friends of mine expressed dismay about Trump winning I said “A lot of people agree with those sentiments, but isn’t it interesting that he was able to win against so many odds? He had the elites, hollywood, Clinton machine and the media against him, yet still won – how did that happen?” If we encourage thinking and try and engage discussion we can sometimes preserve the relationship. It is the tendency to go straight to disagreement that can trigger a positional, antagonistic response. I also think email and facebook, being devoid of the conversational nuances, facial expressions, etc, are not conducive to enhancing discussion. I deliberately avoid putting anything political on facebook, and now (following a couple of unpleasant exchanges) will not respond to friends who post political stuff. Conversation is much more desirable. I think a lot of people are emailing and posting as a way to avoid an actual discussion.


    • I appreciate your comments Clifford and I agree that email is not the way to go. However, I live in both Europe and the U.S. and I often have to interact via email in several languages as I simply am not present. It is both a blessing and a curse. In all situations (physical and virtual), I believe everyone needs to step back a bit, calm down and remember that family and friendships are apt to be here long after the politics have passed into history.


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