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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Why can't we be friends?

I am a firm believer in the idea that a deep friendship is quite possibly the most significant and beneficial relationship you can have with someone (arguably aside from marriage, but for some, perhaps even including this). Nothing beats time spent with dear friends, whether it’s dancing at a bar, debating around a kitchen table or sitting on a couch together in complete silence. Being that I am roughly 4,000 miles away from the majority of my friends right now, I have been reflecting on what exactly it is I miss about each of them, and, oddly enough, have been coming up blank. Obviously I miss being around them, but why? What is it about those particular people that bring about such a strong connection to my heart? This lead me further down the rabbit hole of the philosophy of friendship, and I began to question why I am even friends with these people in the first place. It didn’t take much reflection to realize that I disagreed in a major way about something that’s supposed to be very important to a person, be it politics, religion or overall view of life, with each and every one of my best friends. If being on opposite front lines in the war on such hot-button issues such as faith, government and lifestyle choices couldn’t bring down a friendship, what could?

Let’s consider my core groups of friends from back home. For one of my groups, we appear to be made for each other. We are similar in just about everything, from the way we dress, the hobbies we pursue, and our hopes and dreams for the future. However, I tend to disagree with them about one or two minor details — the existence of God and the role government should play in the life of its citizens. See, three of my closest friends are atheists, and I consider myself to be a relatively devout Catholic. Perhaps you’re thinking, as long as you just shove that subject under a carpet, it could be possible to develop a friendship, albeit a shallow one. However, we are absolutely not known for keeping silent about issues. In fact, I’d say we spend more time arguing than we do just about anything else. Yet, if it came down to it, I’m confident we’d die for each other. If God or government can’t make or break a friendship, I’m curious as to what could.

To add even more complication to the matter, sometimes I question whether my closest friends from each of my different worlds would even get along with each other. Based on some experience … I’m doubtful. The mere fact that I have two distinct groups of “best” friends back home that very rarely intermingle, may serve as proof that there are some differences that simply cannot be accounted for by persistence and tolerance alone. If these groups, from almost identical backgrounds, struggle to find enough common ground to be friends, what would my liberal, atheistic friends think of my relatively conservative, Catholic best friends from Notre Dame?

Perhaps the key to a lasting friendship extends into a more idealistic ground — if you’re hopes and dreams for the future align, do politics really matter? Does the existence of a higher being play much of a role in a friendship, as long as your values — love, kindness, loyalty, hard work — are all there, regardless of their inspiration? Or perhaps it’s as simple as being able to laugh and have a good time with someone that really clinches the deal. I’m going to be honest — I have absolutely no clue. These are merely the wonderings of a curious person, so if anyone has any input, I’d be glad to hear it. All I know is that I am extremely grateful for the friendships I have, at ND and beyond, and perhaps shouldn’t try to look too far into the matter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.