The world calls for unity during the continuing battle between religious extremists who have rallied against science, equality, and equity. When you have friends who still support religion and corporations’ preferential treatment over humanity, what do you do?
Our leaders call us to make amends with those who are not just at the opposite end of the political spectrum, but with those who are at odds with the decency of humankind. So you have two impossible choices. There are a lot of things to consider. Do you save or break a friendship with someone who supports bigotry and discrimination, or do you try to educate and change their views?
The world takes a collective breath as we realize one victory on the road to making the world a better place. America and the world are still in the war of ideologies between science and religion, between special interests and equality.
Two Impossible Choices
What should we consider when deciding on whether to save or break a friendship? We can and should look at this decision from different vantage points.
- The Personal Value
- Social and Moral Implications
- The Historical Context
Friendships bring value to our own lives since we reflect those we invite to share our lives. The value of a friendship can grow with time—the more things you have in common, the more value you place on the relationship.
Common interests and experiences are the glue of relationships. If your friend holds a vastly different opinion on politics and religion, it becomes more difficult to agree on some of the most important aspects of life. However, because of the investment you have in the relationship, you may decide to save the friendship. This requires a frank discussion of facts, not just the resulting opinion.
If you refrain from discussing these polar points of view, you will grow apart. Ignoring these issues will create a divide that will erode the relationship over time. The gap will grow the more polarized the ideologies become.
There is a process for approaching resolving opposing points of view with someone who has succumbed to the programming of extremist ideologies and religious beliefs. We call it the unconventional approach to saving a believer. It takes a considerable investment of time, but it can be done.
For example, if you lived in Germany in the 1930s, and your friend supported the National Socialist German Workers’ Party or Nazi Party, the gap in your relationship would grow over time. The more radical the Nazi party became, the wider the gap in your relationship.
This has parallels today with the chasm between the far-right hardline religious and those on the left seeking a more verdant and equitable society for everyone. Those on the right suddenly have blinders to the historical life of their religious leader Jesus. Today they espouse the building of walls to keep out immigrants, of which they are one. They condone the use of automatic weapons to defend the honor of their imaginary friend.
One way to change your friend’s mind who has slid down the rabbit hole of conspiracies and bigotry is to highlight the facts. But many find facts do not change the hardline believer’s minds, and certainly not the extremist. They need to believe so much they deny any rational discussion. This isn’t a new strategy; Galileo discovered cognitive dissonance long before the field of psychology was born.
By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox. — Galileo Galilei
If you attempted to show your friend how the movement was becoming more radicalized, they would refuse to acknowledge the obvious facts. Your frustration may lead you to conclude that it’s time to break the friendship because it conflicts with your personal moral values. This leads us to the next vantage point.
Social and Moral Implications
We are social beings. When we are children, hopefully, we learn to share and be kind. These two principles do not require intellectual prowess, just the ability to learn. These two elements are the foundation of our morals. Everyone has some guiding principles that support their thinking and behavior. Even criminals have their own code of conduct; take the mafia, for instance. For them, it was all about family values. They could commit any crime against people, except those in the family.
It is the same for many religious institutions. This is the reason we have so many wars and genocides done in the name of God. Their social and moral values are determined by the chosen one mentality, their exclusivity of membership. They can do anything if God tells them it is okay. This includes everything from gender mutilation to mercy killings. The social value of their actions is colored by negative bias and prejudice. The moral value of their actions comes from the opinion of their religious leader.
From the examples above, you can see our personal relationships have social, moral consequences. We determine these values in each relationship.
The Historical Context of the Friendship
If your health and wellbeing are attached to a relationship, we can often look past relationships that do not align with our moral values. For example, in Germany in the 1940s, some people ignored the activities of the Nazis because their financial livelihood was tied to them.
They didn’t like what the Nazis were doing, blaming and rounding up minorities, placing disabled people in sanitariums. Still, they didn’t speak up because they knew their jobs depended upon their obedience. The above example of the Nazis in the 1940s is mirrored in the United States’ politics beginning in 2016. If you have work associates who openly support leaders who expose this type of open hatred, it isn’t easy. You still have to work with them because your job depends upon it.
Personal relationships are a different story. Here you have more latitude. What do you do when a friend supports a criminal enterprise? It brings up two impossible choices. Do you try to save or break the relationship?
Looking at it from a historical, social perspective. Those who joined the Nazi party are not forgiven for their association after world war II. Those who supported the Nazi regime because of financial concerns were not forgiven for supporting them. Nor were those who had friends who are Nazis. And finally, those who said nothing and allowed the Nazis to take the world to the brink of a disaster were not forgiven for their silence. Their silence was tacit approval of what was being done.
All three groups, the stanch hardline believers, the supporters, and those who were silent, all contributed to the Nazi party’s climb to power. They all share the blame and shame for allowing it to take place.
Only those who spoke out were seen as having the moral high ground. Many who spoke out suffered persecution, but they could not remain silent to the evil being done. So ask yourself, what do you want your legacy to be? Will you speak out or be silent? Will you hold personal relationships with someone who aligns with the modern Nazi party as bigots, racists?
Do you Save or Break a Relationship?
You have two choices. First, you can try to save a religious fanatic, bigot, or racist. This is a considerable investment of time and effort, and it also means you must maintain ties with someone that conflicts with your personal values. A hybrid approach of the first choice is to maintain partial contact to plant seeds. This last choice has only a small chance of success.
Two, you can break ties with a religious bigot in the hopes they will find their own way. This separates you from the contamination of their toxic beliefs.
If you decide to stay friends and try to change their minds, realize religious and social bigotry are ideologies that are difficult to overcome. It is possible, but not probable. Chances are they have relationships that will keep them cemented into their biased thinking. They will probably continue to expose themselves to the programming of self-hypnosis and group hypnosis, which supports negative stereotype thinking and values.
Self-hypnosis and group hypnosis are powerful tools that can overcome both intellect and reason. That is why close to 4 billion people on the planet believe in some version of the Abrahamic (1) religions. These are the Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They ingrain religious, ethnic, and racial prejudice, which justifies everything from genocide to genital mutation. It is their goal to impose the barbaric standards of the pre-modern era.
The Abrahamic religions are merely the rebranding of early mythologies of the Mediterranean region post 1 BCE. These mythologies are the Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian mystery religions. The Abrahamic religions adopted all of their superstitions and combined them to make the Universal religions. Once you can be taught to believe in talking snakes and animals traveling from around the globe to get in a boat, they can program you to believe anything.
So it is two impossible choices, do you try to save the friendship who wants to return to the dark ages (2)? The dark ages was a time when the Church had great power to persecute. It turned its wrath upon science and anyone who questioned their authority. Many of those in the Church express their desire to return to this type of control.
How long do you try to persuade someone with this type of mindset? It means staying friends with someone who is opposed to equitable ethical standards and reason. They want to return civilization to a time when religious extremists fought to destroy science and common sense. Do you want to carry the stigma of being associated with racists and bigots to save a friend? It would help if you weighed the personal relationship’s value against the moral implications and historical context.
The other things to consider. Will breaking the relationship will be the motivation to spark their awakening from the hypnosis? Or will isolation make them turn to greater extremism? Would it be possible to resurrect the friendship at some time in the future if your friend changes their mind about their extremist or hardline conservative viewpoints?
At the end of World War II, those aligned with and supported the Nazi regime tried to hide by kindling friendships with those who fought against tyranny. Don’t be surprised if those who supported the religious right try to maintain a friendship with you. They want to cover their bigotry by claiming you as a friend. They will seek sympathy and reconciliation, all the while plotting for the next Trump to arise.
It is a difficult decision and one that requires much deliberation. No doubt about it, we see how religion can impact our lives through the culture. We can see how religion tries to regain influence through politics. Sadly, politics and religion are intertwined because we elect and appoint people with hidden agendas and secondary gain issues.
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(1) Abrahamic religions, Wikipedia
(2) The Dark Ages, Wikipedia
(3) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia