Don’t let politics ruin friendships

There was a time, and not so long ago, when people could have opposing opinions and still get along. In fact, there was a time when we could disagree with newscasters or news reporters without believing they were our enemy or spewing fake news simply because they were telling us something we didn’t want to hear.

Funny how time changes things.

Today, whether it’s over a cup of coffee at a local diner or long-distance via one form or another of social media, even the simplest statements are misconstrued, deemed venomous and often become the catalyst to end relationships.

That’s how much control we’ve allowed politics to have over our lives.

For a people who like to believe ourselves so independent, so able to discern truth from fiction, we seem quick to believe any and everything that places the politicians we support in the most positive light. And we don’t care where that information comes from, nor do we check to see if it is reputable in any way. We simply believe it because it’s what we want to hear. And because of that bend, we are led around by the nose.

Like individuals who watch televangelists preach good feelings over Biblical teachings, we are drawn in because it makes us feel better, it assures us we are on the right team and it allows us to believe what we want to believe. No matter that it might not be right, if we want it to be so, well, then, it’s right.

Politics has always, as they say, made a strange bedfellow, but today it’s become the razor-sharp knife that tends to split families, end friendships, cause divisions among church-going folk and cause national upheaval that, we are afraid, could lead to civil unrest if not outright civil war.

If you think we are being melodramatic, simply watch Facebook and see the verbal battles among friends. Even the most benign comments about one political party or another become the igniter to verbal blazes that usually aren’t diffused before bitter words and hurt feelings erupt.

One has to wonder why we’ve allowed it to come to this.

If we’re Republican, we blame the Donald Trump detractors of the world; if we’re Democrats, we blame the Obama and Clinton naysayers, believing with all our hearts that the media, our friends, our next door neighbor or some talking head or columnist has never said a negative thing about a president before the one we favor came along.

It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that such statements aren’t true. Whether Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama or Donald Trump, the media has worked hard to unearth any dirt that might exist, fed by a frenzy of detractors working to make their favored son or daughter look better.

Disagreeing with the simple truth in that statement only shows how much control we’ve allowed politics and those who pull the political strings to have over us.

If we listen to Fox because “that’s the only news channel that tells the truth,” or we only believe reports from CNN because they aren’t spinning the latest news, then we have lost control of our common sense.

It is clear that many cable news channels cater to different political parties, spinning their news in the light that will get them the most viewers. That should not be doubted, and somewhere in the middle of what we read or watch is the truth.

While we have different political stands (and that is a good thing), up until recently, we’ve at least been willing to listen to all sides, even, at times, bending to other views. Not so much anymore.

But that can be changed, if we are only willing to take a step back and open our minds to the possibility that we aren’t always right nor is the party we support.

We must find our way back to that principle before we allow politics to ruin friendships. And if that happens, what is next?