I’m Not Ashamed To Call You My Friend

Sometimes words conceal more than they reveal. The breakfast cereal mantra, “Part of this complete breakfast” was always one of my favourites. So beguiling. So seductive that, to this day, when I see a box of Lucky Charms, Cap’n Crunch or Franken Berry at the grocery store, I instantly turn into a giddy, salivating child. Ask my wife.

Back in the day of Saturday morning cartoons, “Part of this complete breakfast” was hastily slipped in at the end of cereal commercials by the announcer, presumably as a disclaimer insisted on by the legal department, but clearly intended to both comfort and lull parents into believing that feeding this sugary monstrosity to their little Jane constituted a “complete” breakfast.

What it really means, of course, is that this cereal is so nutritionally bankrupt that it can only rise to the status of “breakfast” when combined with some other form of food. It’s a clever twist of words that has never stopped the adult me from exploiting its obvious loophole by enjoying a bowl of cereal as a complete “dinner” instead.

Such occasional indulgences don’t give me nearly as big a stomach ache as the pervasive use of some other crafty expressions, the kind we throw around in conversations about other people. You know, those phrases that are meant to appear respectful, even loving, when they’re really nothing more than backhanded insults. Don’t even get me started on, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I’ll save my thoughts on that little indignity for when I can write about it with less ire.

Today, I am working on banishing another loaded catchphrase from my social vocabulary. On the surface, it sounds innocuous enough; and, in the spirit of the confession I am about to make, I won’t judge you if you’re okay with saying it. For me, however, the need to state that I don’t agree with “everything” about you, is nothing more than self-righteous ass-covering.

I admit it, the desire for approval has long been a weakness of mine. Too many times it has kept me from openly embracing people I admire, or things I enjoy, for fear of being rejected or misunderstood. In a culture where expressing affection for the “wrong” people or things can get you socially beheaded, I have caved. I have often thrown my friends under the bus with the glib little postscript, “of course, I don’t agree with everything they say.” (or do, or believe, or stand for, etc.)

Besides being unnecessary, it’s arrogant. It implies that only those with whom I agree are right. As my English friends would say, “Bollocks!” The truth is that I love diversity of personality, perspectives and ideas. Not only do I like people who see and think differently than me, I seek them out. While it’s bonding to have something in common, for me that something doesn’t need to be ideology. I’m not interested in collecting friends that I can stuff into a box.

Instead of a box lunch, I prefer a buffet, where I eat what I like and pass on what I don’t like—without the need to even mention it. That’s a big part of my personal revolution. I refuse to distance myself any longer from people who look, sound, believe and behave differently than me, in exchange for the approval of a culture so fickle that it would excommunicate me merely for the company I keep.

I love my friends, both in real-life and on social media. If I like you, I like you. It’s as simple as that. I don’t need a particular reason to like you, least of all that you agree with me. I’m not ashamed to call you my friend. Maybe one day we can share a few laughs and ideas over a bowl of Froot Loops.

Bill



If you’ve been shamed, marginalized or disowned by your faith community, reach out to us, either by private message on our Facebook page, or email us at confidential@getrealrevolution.com.