Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I wish I understood friendship. I wish I knew how to have friends who are different from me. Wish I knew how to make them comfortable, while keeping my inner self intact. Wish I could maintain relationships with people in spite of the inevitable changes we all experience.

What makes connection between two people in the first place? What attracts them, forges bonds, and makes it easy for them to occupy proximate space? Is it "magical", or the simple result of cumulative shared experiences? Is it a random natural occurrence unlikely to repeat itself? Why do I quickly "like" some people and distrust others? Is it evolution at work?

My past was spent primarily with Christians. Now I fear many friendships from that era were not based on liking one another as people, but on a common belief system. I am reluctant to tell people about the change in my beliefs because I fear that my fears will be confirmed. That my friends will feel a need to "restore" me to what I was. Anticipating rejection from these old "friends", I have opened myself to new social networks, to new friends who dwell outside the circle I used to be comfortable in. Sadly, something is still missing. Rejecting the same things is apparently no more a basis for friendship than believing the same things.

As a catalyst for friendship, Facebook both helps and hinders. It allows me to see but one dimension of another person, the side they want to show, or even just the side I want to see. Sometimes it encourages me to violate my boundaries. People say things on Facebook they would never say to my face, and yet I keep reading their posts, when I would learn to avoid them in real life. It also allows me to maintain relationships on the surface, without others ever suspecting that I have transformed into a different person underneath. I can pretend.

But I would so much rather have respect. I think that's the bedrock of friendship, for me anyway. When I respect you and you respect me, even if we see life very differently, we will treat each other well and wish each other happiness and contentment. Friendship starts with mutual courtesy and then goes deeper. And therein lies the problem. See, if you don't treat yourself and those close to you with respect, I can find no respect for you.  I don't respect many people right off the bat, even fewer after I get to know them, and I sure as heck don't respect all their viewpoints. Am I being unreasonable or unfair? Or is respect really the backbone of a healthy society?