Right as Reindeer

Deer Raymond,

I have a friend who I really like but that friend thinks the very opposite about me in some ways.  My friend posts some of his ideas on social media and I just want to scream, ‘YOU’RE WRONG, YOU’RE WRONG.” But, I don’t say anything cause I know all his friends would get mad at me, and my friends would get mad at them, and it would be nothing but a fight. I don’t want to lose my friend. Still, I feel really bad when I see some things he says that seem mean or just plain wrong. Should I say something to him or just stuff my feelings and pretend I don’t care?

Signed,

So Tired of the Crap

Dear Need-A-Break, 

There are a lot of really serious and sad things happening in our world right now. Because we aren’t very good at feeling serious or sad, we handle the situation by choosing one side or the other so we feel less vulnerable or alone. The problem is, when we do that – we all end up divided. 

When someone you care about has ideas that belong to “the other side” it can be really hard.  You can’t believe they think like that! And you know what? They feel the same way about you. So the space between people keeps getting bigger.  It’s crazy to think we are going to believe the same about everything. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.  

All reindeer are taught a set of core values so when we work together we understand and feel proud of what we are doing. We learn things like equality, compassion, washing your hooves before you eat, and saying “excuse me” if you accidently antler someone in the back while you’re getting on the deerscalator.  One of the most important things we learn is generosity. 

When you see a friend whose ideas offend or upset you, ask yourself if you can be generous in the situation.  Generosity is NOT pretending to agree with something you don’t agree with, or acting like it doesn’t matter.  Real generosity the finding a solution that gives to them. What can you give to someone whose ideas really push your buttons?

1. Your truth.  Keep your truth simple and remember it is your truth, not “the-only-ever-right-truth.”
  “I don’t feel that way.”  
“In my experience, this situation looks like this to me…”  
“I feel sad when I saw this meme because I think about…”  
By keeping it non-aggressive, and about your truth, you can express your opinions. 

2. Their dignity. No one likes to be called out in front of their friends. In fact, calling out isn’t really helpful. It just makes people embarrassed, which makes them feel MORE vulnerable and they put up more defenses.  So, if you really have to say something, do it in a private message – or if they are good friend – text or call or have lunch.  Say, “I was really upset by what you said, and I want to understand.”  No situation gets better by making someone feel bad.

3. Space to be. Sometimes I see a post and I just stick my nose in a bag of corn and say, “Oh, I can’t even…”  With thoughts like that – the most generous thing I can do is give them space, without me in it. That doesn’t mean breaking off the whole friendship. It means scrolling past and looking at something else or taking a break from that person’s feed.  You aren’t abandoning the entire world to the flames just because you don’t make a comment. Give them their space, and make your space a good place.

My “rule of hoof” for friends on Deerbook is this: You don’t have to agree with me, but you do have to respect me and my right to be me.  Give others that same right.

When you really get tired: turn off the machines, get some rest, and play some reindeer games. You’ll be back to good in no time!

Your Spacious Friend,

Raymond

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