DEAR HARRIETTE: I was hanging out with a new friend the other day, and when we started talking, I learned that he is a Republican. I stopped in my tracks. I thought that all my friends shared my somewhat liberal Democratic views. Before I knew his political affiliation, I would say he fit that description, too. We share many values, but I draw the line with what’s happening in our government and was appalled to learn that he is in with them.
I didn’t ask him any more questions after that. I was so shocked I quickly ended our conversation and dipped out. But this guy is a friend. How can I handle the fact that we are on opposing teams? Everything is so political these days that I don’t know how to handle this. -- Us Vs. Them
DEAR US VS. THEM: My husband argues that the political parties are far more similar than different, though certain philosophies do differ. In today’s political times, there surely are some extremes that people are struggling to understand.
Rather than lumping your friend into a category that automatically says that you are opponents, talk to him about his views as you share your own. Have a respectful conversation about what you value and what he believes in. Determine where your values differ and where they may be similar. Agree on topics that you are happy to debate and those that you believe will lead to discord without resolution. You can agree to table those.
You don’t have to leave this friendship. Knowing people who have different viewpoints from yours is important in understanding life and how to engage other people. You should not expect or desire for everyone to be your clone.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)