Thursday, December 08, 2005

Overcoming my own preconceptions

So admittedly over the past few years I've noticed that I've grown a little further apart from most of my college friends, thankfully not all. Sure, much of that has to do with time, it's been 8 years since I graduated from the University of Arizona, and as I've luckily made many more friends from grad school or working at the Times Union or living and working in Los Angeles, I find that the time i have to devote to calling Wildcats and emailing them has been split up among all my new friends, too. But it's been more than simply the adidtion of new friends and the increased distance of spacetime--I've also noticed that i have less in common with many of them and the mikefricano that I am now.

Many of them studied to be teachers while in college and/or are teachers now. Also a fair amount of them have lived all of or much of their post college lives in Tucson and been there with each other when they had post-college milestones. and while i've never been criticized for my absence, in fact i've strengthened some relationships since graduating thanks to maturity, i can just tell that i don't have as much new common ground. and that's OK, i've learned that that is the path of life. for on my end i have added new friends to my circles as well that my college friends do not know.

But in addition to additions to the Web of friends, I've also become very much a screaming blue liberal, while many of them are a bit more conservative (at least so i've thought). Many of them grew up in Arizona, traditionally a more conservative state than New York or California where I live now. And I also went into the "liberal mainstream media" while they did not. It's been since college that I've met more atheists/agnostics and people pro-choice, anti-death penalty, anti-criminalizing flag burning, etc. I am known among some friends as the Forwarder of news articles and also especially Opinion columns criticizing the Bush administration and arguing for "liberal causes." I rarely, though, send anything to my college friends, save one or two. I assumed that they wouldn't appreciate my ramming my political ideas down their throats, just as I certainly wouldn't want them to do that to me.

In the past few days, though, thanks to this blog in fact, I realized that i was judging my college friends based on opinions assumed to be in evidence and not actual surveys of their political thoughts. I include my blog address in my email signature and a friend with whom I speak far too rarely (Megan) decided to check it out. Now this blog tends to get political from time to time, since politics have become an interest of mine. In this particular entry I was praising the decency of Jimmy Carter, who had appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Megan read this posting and said she wholeheartedly agreed with my take on this very honorable man. This was honestly quite surprising to me, since I had assumed her to be more conservative than me, and she may well be because most people are, but it was unwise of me to do that. For just because someone is to my right it doesn't mean that they're RIGHT-WING. And honestly, i have no idea what Megan's political leanings are. I just know now that she recognizes a truly decent, intelligent, thoughtful man in Jimmy Carter and she is angered by the dishonesty of our current administration. Why would I possibly think that one of my friends, whose opinions and support are important to me, wouldn't have an astute command of something so plainly obvious?

I've said often that you can really assess people by examining their friends, because their values and ideas will be reflected in them. And if I am to consider Megan and all my college friends true friends, I need to trust that they'll have the wisdom and intelligence to "get me" even if their politics are diametrically opposed to mine. So though you may never read this Megan, thank you.


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