Friends across political spectrum are necessary

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Every person is entitled to hold his or her own opinions. With a variety of worldviews represented at California Baptist University alone, it is easy to meet many individuals who have different political backgrounds. The college experience is what each student makes of it, and surrounding oneself with a diverse mindset can be helpful in the long run.

Gaining a diverse mentality is part of the reason colleges set general education requirements and why it is critical to have an assortment of experiences listed on a resume. For people to evolve in both their mindset and global viewpoint, they must expose themselves to various kinds of thinking.

Audrey Alexander, sophomore illustration major, said she identifies with a political party, but also gathers information from different perspectives to see which aligns more with the Bible.

Respect is a key characteristic when it comes to friendships that represent contrasting values and beliefs. 

Each student has the ability to respectfully hear what another student values without the intent to change the other’s perspective. Fostering a healthy dynamic begins with the goal of gaining a better understanding of those around them.

“It’s not a necessity for me to have friends that align with me politically, as long as we can have a friendly discussion about our views that is respectful,” Alexander said.

Josh Schwarz, sophomore pre-nursing major, said politics has never gotten between him and a friend. 

“It has started a couple of arguments, but it has always been discussed, and then each person goes on to believe what they believe,” Schwarz said.

In addition to practicing respect, another important attribute is to refrain from pushing or forcing a particular agenda onto someone else. Each individual must have two goals: empathy and communication. 

Once one gains the ability to empathize with others and to communicate one’s own views in a civil tone, only then can true growth within a friendship take place.

The ability to nurture healthy boundaries between friends is foundational. Dr. Amy Stumpf, professor of society and religion, explained that politics should not be the cause of an ended friendship.

“Good people can believe differently, but sometimes their belief system is just part of them not being a great person,” Stumpf said.

Dr. Stumpf explained there are individuals that develop their entire personality around their political identity. When this is the case, there is a much higher chance that the person will be less empathetic and understanding because their political identity is a part of their core character.

Stumpf’s advice for friends who do not see eye-to-eye on various topics is that everyone should apply respect and assume the best about others.

“Friendships never work well if I always assume the worst,” Stumpf said.

Humans love to divide themselves and identify with different labels — it allows them to find community within groups of like-minded individuals.  

If there is a desire for a more harmonious environment within humankind, there has to be an inward examination of the heart before there is any external action.

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