The world needs unity to solve global issues. But finding common ground is impossible when extremists rally against the greater good. What do you do if you have friends who support these corrupt political leaders? You have two impossible choices. There are many things to consider. Do you save or break a friendship with someone who supports bigotry and discrimination, or do you seek to educate and change their views? Do you stay in contact, but not friends?
Some believe we should make amends and forgive those who committed crimes and tried to overthrow the government. This option is even more difficult when the criminal acts continue. The rights of women and minorities are being eroded. Others believe the only way to heal these wounds is to prosecute those who have committed crimes. What do you think?
It becomes very difficult to maintain a relationship with someone who supports the return to the dark ages (1) of religious and racial bigotry. As yourself these questions. Can you truly be friends with someone that tolerates bigotry, and condones racism and political corruption? Is it wise to do so?
How Do You Maintain a Friendship?
The quantity and quality of our relationships affect our mental health. (2) For example, people in captivity suffer from the effects of social deprivation. This can cause mental health issues. It leads to narcissistic tendencies, depression, and social phobias. The same thing happens if we expose ourselves to people with unhealthy values and beliefs. This causes the same mental deterioration. Exposure to unhealthy people can have negative effects on our own mental health. Mental health professions must learn to insulate themselves emotionally from the people they treat.
This underscores the need for healthy relationships based on shared positive values. It provides the best outcome for everyone. The key is positive values, which promote healthy thoughts and behaviors. These kinds of values are inclusive and non-discriminatory. They promote equality and the care of people and the planet.
The problem arises when someone becomes involved in thinking and values which are not positive. The farther apart people become in their thinking and values, the harder it is to maintain a healthy friendship.
When religious and political values differ, it isn’t a problem, as long as both sets of values are positive. It is only a problem when one person has values tainted by harmful bias and prejudice.
How do you maintain a friendship with someone that has different values when their values are unhealthy? The answer is you probably should not maintain a friendship with someone who has unhealthy values because it will have a negative impact on your health.
Can you change their minds and find a way for them to abandon their unhealthy values? It is achievable but will take a serious investment in time. Before you try to resolve the conflict, evaluate your friendship from three vantage points.
Two Impossible Choices
Here are the different vantage points to consider when deciding whether to save or break a friendship.
- The Personal Value
- Social and Moral Implications
- The Historical Context
Friendships can bring value to our own lives. We reflect the values of those we invite into our lives. (3) The value of relationships grows with time—the more things you have in common, the more value your place on the relationship.
The best relationships are those built on shared values. Healthy spiritual values provide a solid foundation. Work and hobbies bring people together. We can build connections, but they may not share the same values.
Shared interests and experiences can be the glue of relationships. But experiences and interests are not the same as core values. When core values differ, it becomes more difficult to agree. Shared interests and experiences are not enough to overcome differences in values. This is especially true of values about politics and religion.
You may decide to save the friendship because of the time and effort you’ve put into it. To have a meeting of the minds requires a frank discussion of facts, not just the resulting opinion. There is no such a thing as different facts, only different opinions.
If you stop discussing conflicting points of view, you grow apart. Ignoring these issues will create a divide that will erode the relationship, and the gap will increase the more polarized the ideologies become.
There is a process for resolving opposing viewpoints. Someone who has succumbed to the programming of extremist ideologies and religious beliefs can change. It takes a significant investment in time, and we have an approach to do this we call the unconventional approach to saving a believer. The wider the gap in beliefs, the more work it will require on your part to bridge the division. It may be impossible.
For example, Let’s say you lived in Germany in the 1930s, and your friend supported the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party). The gap in your relationship would likely grow as the Nazi party became more radical. What do you think? Do you see this happening today?
This paradigm has parallels today with the chasm between the far-right hard line religious and those on the left seeking a more verdant and fair society for everyone. Those on the right suddenly have a blindfold on. They do not relate to the historical life of their spiritual leader, Jesus. Today they espouse the building of walls to keep out immigrants. They forgot their families were once immigrants. They condone the use of automatic weapons to defend the honor of their imaginary friend, even if it means more gun violence.
One way to change your friend’s mind who has slid down the rabbit hole of conspiracies and bigotry is to highlight the facts. Sometimes facts cannot convince the hard line believer. Facts rarely the mind of the extremist. They need to believe so much they deny any rational discussion. It 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
People learn to deny facts. If your friend frequently denies the facts or tries to change the facts, it leads to frustration for everyone. You may decide it is time to break the friendship. Before you do this, examine the next vantage point concerning the social and ethical implications.
Social and Moral Implications
As children, we had two social lessons to learn, share and be kind. These two principles are the foundation of our social, moral compass. If you don’t learn these lessons, it shows when you become a greedy self-centered adult. Do you see any of those around?
Everyone has guiding principles that support their thinking. Even criminals like the mafia have a code of conduct. For them, it is all about family values. They could commit crimes against everyone, except those in the family.
Religious beliefs are the force behind war and genocide. It is done in the name of God. A chosen one mentality gives them the right to do anything if God tells them. It doesn’t matter what it is. They use God to justify everything from gender mutilation to mercy killings. They cannot see how negative bias and prejudice colors their thinking.
From the examples above, you can see our relationships have social, moral consequences. We determine these values in each one.
The Historical Context of the Friendship
If your health and wellbeing are attached to a relationship, we may overlook harmful values the conflict with our own. This does not keep us from feeling the effects of their harmful values. For example, because of financial ties, some people condoned the activities of the Nazis. They didn’t like what the Nazis were doing, finding scapegoats to blame for national issues, and rounding up minorities, placing disabled people in sanitariums. On the other hand, they did not stop them from doing it.
They didn’t speak up because they knew their jobs depended upon their obedience. Unfortunately, the above example of the Nazis in the 1940s is mirrored in the United States’ politics beginning in 2016. It isn’t easy to work with associates who openly support leaders who expose this type of open hatred. Yet, 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 save or break a friendship?
They did not excuse those who joined or supported the Nazi party after the war. Those who were a part of or supported the regime were held accountable. Finally, they did not forgive those who said nothing and kept silent. Their silence was tacit approval of the Nazi’s actions.
All three groups, the stanch hard line believers, the supporters, and those silent, contributed to the Nazi party’s climb to power. They all share the blame and shame for allowing it to take place.
Those who spoke out against tyranny had the moral high ground, but were persecuted. Still, they could not remain silent. Their moral compass would not allow them to ignore the situation.
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, bigots, or racists?
Do You Save or Break a Friendship?
The dilemma is between two impossible choices. First, you can try to save the relationship by changing their attitudes and beliefs. It’s possible, but a considerable investment of time and effort, and it also means you must maintain ties with someone who rejects your core values.
Second, a hybrid approach of the first choice is to maintain partial contact and plant seeds. This last choice has only a tiny chance of success, but it is safer. Finally, you can break ties and hope they will find their way. It separates you from the contamination of their toxic beliefs.
If you decide to change their minds, realize religious and social bigotry are ideologies are difficult to overcome. It is possible, but not easy. Chances are, they have relationships that will keep them cemented into their biased thinking. In addition, 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 potent tools which overcome both intellect and reason. 4 billion people believe in the Abrahamic (4) religions. So, we know these mind control tools work. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam use these brainwashing techniques to gain and retain their customers. They ingrain religious, ethnic, and racial prejudice. These valudes are used to justify everything from genocide to genital mutation. It is their goal to impose the brutal standards of the pre-modern era.
This programming directs the values of your core beliefs. It’s the reason people with religious beliefs cloister together. It is a relationship based on shared beliefs, no matter how unhealthy and skewed.
If you do not share the same positive spiritual beliefs, it is more difficult to bridge the gap. This is because the Abrahamic faiths are embracing the more extreme aspects of its ideology. The Far-right extremist point of view is becoming the norm.
You can see the effect of Far-right thinking on the culture and highest levels of government. You can observe its effects. The attack on female personal autonomy via the repeal of abortion rights being just one example.
It comes down to two impossible choices. Do you try to save the friendship with someone who wants to return to the dark ages? I don’t want to go back. How about you? The dark ages (1) was from the 5th to the 10th Century when the Church had the power to persecute. It turned its wrath upon science and anyone who questioned its authority. Many of those in the Church express their desire to return to this type of control. They want The Handmaiden’s Tale to be a reality.
How long do you try to persuade someone with this type of mindset? It means staying friends with someone as opposed to fair ethical standards and reason. They want to return civilization to 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 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 a later time if your friend changes their mind about their extremist or hard-line conservative viewpoints?
At the end of World War II, those who supported the Nazi regime tried to hide by kindling friendships with those who fought against tyranny. Don’t be surprised if those who supported political extremists try to maintain a relationship 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. Don’t buy their lies.
Deciding to end a friendship is a difficult decision. It is one that requires much deliberation. We see how religion affects our lives as a tool to influence politics. Sadly, politics and religion are intertwined because we elect and appoint people with hidden agendas and secondary gain issues. It is like living in a disaster movie. Hang in there.
(1) The Dark Ages:
(3) What Are Your Personal Values? The Harvard Business Review:
(4) Abrahamic religions: