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Can a Real Conservative and a Real Liberal Be Real Friends?

PJ Advice columnist Belladonna Rogers tells how the lion can lie down with the lamb -- at least sometimes.

by
Belladonna Rogers

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December 27, 2011 - 12:00 am
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If you’re part of a small minority of conservatives, surrounded by a vast majority of vocal, supercilious (in your case, Massachusetts) leftists, it’s understandable that you’d take comfort in the companionship of like-minded thinkers and even consider them a safe haven in a hostile world.

However, by doing this, you’re also cutting yourself off from the possibility of getting to know, respect and even love people whose politics are completely unlike your own.

It’s important to move out of our comfort zones – not to the point of bungee jumping or diving out of small aircraft with a parachute – to get to know people who are different, at least on the surface.

And as strongly as we all feel that our political beliefs are central to who we are, there are many other components within us that are also major elements of our identities.

If you allow into your life those who are different politically, their kindness, humor and generosity will astonish you.  Not every single person unlike you will do this, but many will.

Although I understand your fear that overlooking a leftist’s other flaws will make you feel like a hypocrite, as long as you don’t make politics the center of your friendship, and as long as the leftist understands that your political position is different, there’s no cause for fearing to appear deceitful to yourself or to anyone else.

You’ll have a fuller life if you don’t close yourself off from contact with people who didn’t grow up the way you did, or in the town or region you did, or practicing the religion your family did.

Finding common ground and forging bonds with others on levels far more important than political views is possible.  And yes, Virginia, there are more important levels, or at least other levels than politics.

The greater the effort you make to discover those commonalities, the richer and deeper your experience of life will be.

Another way to become less judgmental is to accept – as difficult as this may be to imagine — that you’re not perfect, either, and that you’ve made thousands of mistakes in your life.  Recognizing and remembering that will make you more understanding when you encounter other imperfect people.

The current vicissitudes in the popularity levels of the Republican presidential candidates mirror the conundrum you face every New Year’s Eve: to everyone’s amazement, none of them is perfect.   Who knew?

The world’s greatest humanitarians and spiritual leaders have all been imperfect:  we admire them despite their feet of clay.

If you can focus more on people’s admirable traits and less on their flaws, even their rudeness — as annoying and unconscionable as these traits can be — I promise you that by next New Year’s Eve you’ll have more people in your life whom you love, admire and respect than you do now because you will have become a less judgmental person, without sacrificing who and what you are.

A happy and healthy new year – with a jubilant result on November 6th — to you and to all PJ Media readers.

– Belladonna Rogers

Do you have questions?  Belladonna Rogers has answers.  Send your questions or comments about politics, personal or cultural matters, or anything else that’s on your mind, and Belladonna will answer as many as possible.  The names, geographic locations and email addresses of all advice-seekers will be kept confidential. Names and places and other personal information will be changed to protect the identity of the questioner.  Send your questions or comments to: advice@pjmedia.com

 

 

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Belladonna Rogers is a close observer of international and domestic affairs.
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