An interesting and sad day: I lost a friend.
This morning, I found out that a longtime meatspace pal, a once thoughtful individual who over the years has become more tightly connected to the vicious anti-LGBT Right, secretly unfriended me on Facebook. Talk about a kick in the solar plexus. I am sad about this, but not angry. First of all, it is his right to do as he sees fit. I respect that. This is not the first time this has happened and it surely will not be the last. Also, let’s be real: Is it moral for me to be friends with a person whose main vocation in life is ensuring anyone’s inequality under law? Is it healthy for my heart, soul, and mind? Can a human who embraces progressive ideals and a far-right person maintain a friendship or relationship as equals without driving each other crazy?
Well, after years of trying to build bridges with right wingers via journalism and activism — generally to the detriment of my personal well-being — I am close to concluding that the cultural divide between right wingers and people of justice is perhaps just too vast. No, I am not throwing in any towels or turning my back on people I love who tragically choose the side of hate and injustice. I will always love them. But if those conservative people I love believe my speaking out against discrimination is tragic and sinful, can they really be my friend? I do not think so.
Progressives and right-wingers don’t speak the same language (and the Right insists that everyone speak theirs and live under its rules and worldview). When I resist that, I AM THE BAD ONE. If I get angry at inequality, something obviously is wrong with ME. Of course, I reject that notion wholesale: Each of the two sides sees the other’s view as completely immoral, not merely as “misguided” or “wrong.” Our value systems and the things we cherish are all too often diametric opposites. Sometimes it seems our actual DNA must be different: Compassion chips go missing so often from those on the side of the Party of NO, the side of those who believe God hates many of those she created and insists they live in misery.
Should progressives ultimately see justice finally established under law — for example, should marriage equality win, as it must — the reactionary right, having lost in all nonviolent arenas, likely will stage a bloody Onward Christian Soldiers kind of insurgency, a new Crusade of sorts that replaces their incendiary hate speech with actual guns. Think about that for a sec: Teabaggers and homophobes, bitter, scared, clinging to their god and guns, led by Fuhrer Palin and her band of Real Amurricans.
Mark my pessimistic words, though I pray my fears are wrong. But if that is what it takes to be equal, bring it on. And if losing friends is the price of equality, to quote Kurt Vonnegut, so it goes.
Not that I am giving up on bridge-building: It seems clear to me that if we start with kindness, we perhaps can make inroads on creating a unity that can cross ideological lines. For that to happen, though, the nation must be kind — everyone must be equal under law. Until that basic unkindness is addressed, to paraphrase Haile Selassie and Bob Marley, expect unending war. And if you have friends on the far right, be prepared to lose at least some of them.