How to Maintain and Develop Friendships Amidst Cancel Culture
In the culture in which we live, it has become far too commonplace to toss aside people as if they were childhood playthings and not human. Yet each and every individual has value.
How might we combat such a trend?
And, should we be at the receiving end of this heartbreaking reality—if we are, in fact, the victims—are we also in danger of losing sight of ourselves? What do we do when our scars lead to insecurities, which then wrestle with the deepest fear?
When you are abandoned by a friend because you have different views, it can be all too tempting to avoid friendship with those of a similar bent in the future. Especially if it was a close friend, even moreso if it was one of the closest.
But it's also not fair.
I understand deeply the sort of trauma that can make one fearful of being left behind again, whether a slow distancing or an abrupt cancellation.
Yet would we wish for others to do the same to us on account of our views? To, in effect, mentally cancel us before friendship might continue to grow, before we have a chance to hypothetically hurt them? Can we not hold firmly to the notion of “innocent until proven guilty”? If respect is maintained, might we not find a way to share in the joy and beauty in the world together despite our differences? Even if, especially if, our views are important to us?
If not, then what are we fighting for, what are we angry about to begin with—and why should not Love be surrounding all of that fervor, that righteousness, that earnest and ardent seeking of Truth?
Perhaps you are expected to hate them. The ones who left or distanced themselves because your views did not conform to theirs.
But that is only poisoning yourself further.
Don't hate them. Love them, love them until the day that you die—and longer still.
And, with Love, as we look back on old friendships like this, we must remember that the shattered pieces do not have to define what is to come, the people that are to come. The past should not keep us from those gifts in our lives, those with the ability to hurt us, to abandon us.
For, just as we could close off our hearts to romance because of a broken heart, so, too, could we lose out on so much if we choose to shut our eyes to potential friendships because of fear.
DISCLAIMER: I am suggesting this all within reason. ;) I'm not saying, for example, that we have to invite escaped convicts into our homes. Although, as much as I jest, perhaps we might still have a sort of spiritual “friendship” with them all the same, might pray for them while being mindful of the safety of our families and allowing those with more expertise and the appropriate legal procedure to find the best way to address the issue.
Connections: Friendship in Television
Perhaps one of the best illustrations in television of friendship during a turbulent time is from the 1980s TV series North and South.
Two best friends on opposite sides of the war. One for the North, one for the South.
And yet they remained the dearest of friends—like honorary brothers.
There is a truly beautiful scene from that series that I have never forgotten since I first saw it many years ago. It involves a farewell—but not a goodbye—between these two friends. I remember the dead silence in my family's home as we all watched the screen, the glorious theme song swelling as a single figure stood watching the train in half-light. It almost gave me chills because it was so stirring, so deeply poignant.
Such a friendship probably would not seem counter-cultural many years ago, and yet I believe that such a scene is, in truth, incredibly important to take in and thoughtfully consider in today's society.
I highly recommend watching the video until the end.
Amidst the pettiness that can sometimes afflict our world, these ending scenes from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan also stand out as stunning, timeless examples of true friendship and sacrifice, as written about in John 15:13: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” SPOILER warning.🖖
Every day, people have no choice but to say goodbye to those they love. Why? Because of death.
And yet, probably also every day, people choose to say goodbye to those they love. With finality. With resolve to never speak again.
There may be extenuating circumstances that are valid—for example, loving a friend or family member from afar due to some sort of witness protection that is indefinite. Serious breaches of trust, continuous disrespect on a dehumanizing level, and a general defining pattern of lack of love from the other party as you give your all—each without any substantial effort to change or make amends, as revealed through true dialogue rather than the building up of assumptions and misunderstandings—also necessitate, at the very least, parameters in place for the purposes of self-preservation and self-respect. However, this section applies moreso to true friendships that, regardless of what occurs, remain at their core beautiful and good and should last forever. If the “friendship” is instead one-sided—and the other person is simply using you—that is not a friendship in truth and could have negative consequences. In such a case, it is best to be wary in regards to trust, but to nevertheless pray for the other person with an open heart.
Yet, beyond that, choosing to say goodbye is nonsensical. To be given more time is a gift.
To paraphrase someone else, these things will pass. After all, “passing emotions” are just that . . . they pass.
But, if these emotions are humored instead of worked through, they will only leave idle destruction in their wake. Not just for the other person, for what you share together, but in how that rash choice can slowly shape you into something you're not.
Don't let it.
But that is the future. There is always the past. Human frailty remains, and human mistakes happen. And yet it is never too late to try to make amends. Whether the other person is receptive or not. Whether it is prudent or possible to reach out to the other person or not.
At the very least, in your own heart.