OPINION: Being friends with those who share different opinions

Ross McDonnell Columnist

Very few people are going to agree with exactly what you say or exactly what you think throughout your lifetime, regardless of the issue. More importantly, being able to get along with those you disagree with (I’m not saying give in to them) is a very healthy attitude for both you and the other person involved. There are going to be people who agree with you (even if you don’t agree on everything) and people who disagree with you. Not every person who agrees with you is a great person and not every person who disagrees with you is a terrible person, I guarantee that. I’m not trying to say that what they believe in isn’t always a bad thing, but they just do not see it the same way you see it. For example, a lot of times people — myself included — will say or think along the lines of:

“How could he support this policy? Doesn’t he know how awful that will be?”

And you know what? Maybe that policy will be awful, but the reason the other guy is supporting that policy is not because he likes awful things happening. He supports that policy because he does not see the issue the same way that I see the issue. In other words, he and I believe that there are different motivations and different consequences (intended or unintended) behind the potential policy or law. Whoever supports either Capitalism or Socialism does not support it because they like the negative aspects of those systems. If you believe in Capitalism it means you think the system can be fixed so it best serves the population as a whole, and if you believe in Socialism that means you think the system can be fixed so it best serves the population as a whole.

“But…it’s just so obvious.”

To you, it might be obvious, and I am not necessarily saying you are even wrong. That being said, the other guy just does not see things the way you see them. As obvious as it is to you that something is good, it is probably just as obvious to the other guy that the same exact thing is bad.

Where does this tie into the social aspect? Basically, it boils down to what is someone’s intent behind their words. Once you realize their intent is not to do any harm to you or hinder you or anyone else (even if the policies they support may cause that) you can understand that the person you have been arguing with is — basically — just like you: a passionate person who believes in voting their conscience and trying to do what is — in their individual judgment — best for everyone. Once you see that the opposing side is not the enemy, and just happens to be supporting someone you think is bad, it becomes much easier to get along with them.

If someone seems like a nice person before you learn about their political or social views, then they probably are, even if we try to paint people who disagree with us as “bad.”

Not only is exclusively having friends of the same ideology as you cutting out a large group of people from your potential social circle, it is also keeping you from developing ways to understand your own ideology and better defend it. If you only ever listen to one side of the argument and never hear what other people have to say, regardless of what excuse you may give yourself for not listening to the other side, not only are you not going to understand their side, you are not going to understand your own side.

If I am not knowledgeable of the reasons as to why some people oppose what I believe or what arguments people are going to use against my point of view, then I am most likely not going to be able to defend my points of view against opposing arguments. If I believe in something, but cannot answer any arguments against it (something every single one of us is guilty of, even the most educated) then I am not doing a very good job of supporting my ideology. If I understand what people are going to say against my argument — even if I’m probably not going to ever agree with it — then I can more plainly see their side of the argument and, therefore, understand their reasoning and come up with counterarguments to their challenge.

My best friend and I could not be more different on most of the major issues facing the country today, but that has never once made us question our friendship or whether or not we love and accept each other as people. We both appreciate the opportunities for healthy, open understanding debate and understand that neither one of us is hateful and both of us have the best interests of everyone at heart because she and I are both adults.

It is an important aspect of maturity. We need to get to the point as adults where we can agree to disagree. We can fight against the other side’s policies until we are blue (or red) in the face, we can oppose every tax levy, we can support every tax levy, but just know that on the other side of the aisle is a good person who loves their friends and family just like you do and wants what is the best for everybody just like you do, even if it seems otherwise. We should not get angry at different points of view, even if it is something every one of us is guilty of.

I love to hear the other sides of issues because it is exciting to me and keeps me sharp, just like playing a game makes a football team sharper than just a practice can. You can ignore me all you want, that is completely your right; you can tell me that I am an idiot and that I should shut up. If that is your response, then God bless you because you just proved my point, you just read my article, and I still pass no judgment on you as a person because you just want what you think is best for everyone. That is the beautiful thing about my point of view on the subject.

Ross McDonnell is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.