Leave politics out of friendships

Yes, most of my friends have similar political convictions to mine. Actually, not just political but also more general philosophical ones, bearing on the theory of being, knowledge, the human good and even the nature of art.

But I do have some genuine friends who disagree with me on important matters, including politics. How is that possible for someone who takes politics as seriously as I do?

Well, for lovers of human liberty an implication of their outlook is not to push people too hard about their convictions. Yes, one can try to argue them into holding different ideas from those they do hold, although it rarely pays off and even when it does, it takes years.

Serious folks, which doesn’t mean morose or ornery ones, do hold on to their convictions more vigilantly than others, partly because they came about holding them through hard work, elaborate reflection, experimentation, study and so forth.

To just change would be unlikely.

Even the few people I know of, both in the history of human thought and among ordinary folks, who have gone through major changes, there is something that remains pretty steadfast.

I know one famous English thinker who moved politically from out and out classical liberal to radical Leftist. He would seem to contradict the idea of not changing one’s mind about important matters. And indeed at a certainly level of thinking he hasn’t changed, ever. He has always been a radical skeptic, someone who believed that people really cannot know the world well enough to be sure about it. So he has found it easier to change his mind on particular matters because what he believed didn’t amount to something he actually thought he knew to be true, only an opinion.

Anyway, I have some friends who actually believe of themselves that they are out and out socialists while I am of course a firm capitalist or libertarian. In certain cases the reason we can be friends is that on many other fronts we see eye to eye, like about raising children, being responsible in one’s personal affairs instead of dumping on others, keeping one’s word and so forth.

But, yes, in matters of politics these friends reject what I embrace — and they vote that way, support politicians and legislation accordingly. We then tend to stay away from these topics or when we just no longer can do so, we deal with them gingerly, delicately, in very civil terms.

But most of the time we agree to disagree and our friendship rests on other things, like our personalities, tastes and preferences in sports and our equal devotion to our families.