Friendship – a word which was sacred and everlasting in our childhood, it meant “forever” and we knew that there was certain moral conduct that was supposed to be maintained between friends. Arguments could be sorted with just a quick handshake. How many of us still see “friendship” the same way. There are so many people I talk to daily, who engage in political arguments with friends, get overheated and break their friendship with the person. It’s not a handshake we demand, its ideological submission where we force our friends to submit to a particular ideology. Instead of discussions and calm conversations, a politically heated environment is often created. Would the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara have been the same if the majority of the movie was clouded with controversial political conversations? Isn’t the heaviness of the political conversation the reason why a lot of us dislike “What Are The Odds?” so much?
I believe that friends do play an important role in discussing politics and helping you to frame your opinion. But how will you ever help them see the light, if you get overheated and stop talking to them entirely. I too have done this in the past and called it “A breakup with friends over ideology”. I too have stopped talking to friends who voted for different political parties which I would not support. This now makes me feel like we are creating mini versions of those political parties in our own lives and surrounding ourselves with people who have similar ideologies. It’s almost like Facebook which throws the same information at you which you believe in and merely reiterates your opinion.
I had read a short story titled – “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty which is a dark and gruesome story about a Sniper who kills his own brother as they are on opposite sides of the frontlines. The story reaches its climax where a brother realizes that the man he has shot is his own brother. Often ideology and politics are designed to divide more than unite. This division not only affects society but creates a division in ourselves, by pitting our loved ones against us and makes us feel isolated. The more I ponder over politics and discuss it, the more lonely I feel. And I’m sure it’s the same for many of us. The politicization of the youth often means that we have no break in our life, we are discussing politics with people in every break we get, which taxes our brains more than we know. Often students fall in the pit of poor mental health over political discussions and lost friends, which none of us truly deserve. What we deserve is “deep friendship” like the old times and the ability to stay friends in the long term.
This must have been the case earlier too, discord between friends and family due to politics, however, was not socially acceptable. Now, we see that not only is discord over politics socially acceptable, but there is also a pressure to dissociate from people who are politically incorrect and have ill-informed opinions, or rather opinions that don’t match with ours. This is almost resulting in a divide between people who are interested in politics and have strong opinions and people who are ill-informed or have no opinions in politics. Even neutral stances are punished by society so there is no way really to escape a political conversation. Having no opinion is considered opinion in itself.
Friendship has indeed changed in the 21st Century, greater access to media and student interest in current affairs means that we are much more aware of social issues. Greater conversations means that we are much more opinionated about these issues. These very opinions itself, often lead to discord and broken friendships. Each of us is aware that our opinion is not a fact, yet such few of us are willing to accept that. We pass moral judgments on our friends rather easily and are unwilling to even listen to them.
We all need to think more about how politics and other social issues is changing our friendships, take a step back and try to look at the situation, and conversation calmly. Getting overheated or breaking a friendship will help neither side.