Newton’s Third Law for Human Beings

Recently, a person whom I deleted from my Facebook “Friends List” almost six months ago contacted me with a request to add them back as a friend. Along with the add request, they added a small note, asking if I had deleted them and whether or not they offended me. If so, they said “sorry.”

I am not a person who holds grudges or stews over incidents which could be perceived as being offensive. I really don’t have time for that kind of drama in my life and I usually just move on.

This person and I were very close when we were younger, but as we have become adults and have grown into our own opinions and belief systems, our paths have become somewhat skewed in opposite directions, thus our differences have really divided us for the past several years.

As an American, I am grateful to live in a country where our speech and personal expressions are protected from persecution and retribution…but unlike many Americans, I understand that that freedom is strictly limited to actions taken against me by the government. It does not include how I might be treated by other individuals when I exercise that right. In other words, though I may have the right to express my opinions, beliefs or values, it isn’t necessarily a good thing to do so at all times or at any cost.

This is the dilemma I face with this individual. While they were my friend on Facebook, they used that platform for expressing their beliefs and opinions, many of which were not only insensitive to me personally, but were downright “in your face” about those subjects. And it isn’t as if I have ignored them in the past about this issue. I have had many conversations IN PERSON about their insensitivity and the brash way in which they convey their personal values and belief structure. Unfortunately, it appears that those concerns have fallen on deaf ears, thus at some point, I could no longer tolerate it and deleted them from my Facebook friends.

I find myself often wondering why people become so polarized in their way of life. It fascinates me that despite the differences between individuals, groups, nations, races, religions, etc., we have no way of finding the commonalities between us – the common good or the common intelligence or the common humanity and use that platform to form the bonds we need to live harmoniously. For some unknown reason, we would rather be against those who are different from us than try to reach that compromise. For many, it’s “my way or the highway.”

What is baffling to me is that there seems to be an underlying belief among those who choose not to find common ground with those they are diametrically opposed to that, were they to even consider entertaining the idea of finding that common ground, they are somehow compromising their own standards or beliefs. Even more frightening to me is the unspoken opinion that allowing compromise would somehow convince them to change, thus causing them to feel they betrayed their own lives and those around them. So out of fear, they would rather expend the energy to defame, put down, berate or even destroy the ones they have such a dilemma with.

In an era of change, while we find such diversity, variety and a mixture of cultures, races, creeds and communities, I have also seen the underlying ground swell of intolerance, hatred and narrow-mindedness that history has shown to cause true chaos in the world. I fear that we’ve only begun to see the “tip of the iceberg” in this regard and I can only hope that somehow, we as a race can find a way to evolve past it.

To my friend who asked if they had offended me, the true answer is no. But I cannot allow such expressions of intolerance, bigotry, prejudice and fanatical dogma to be a part of my life. Find a way to look past our differences, find a way to embrace our commonalities, find a way to live your differences without having to broadcast them with such blind conviction and disregard for those who you find different…then approach me again. If you truly wish our friendship to develop and grow, you will ask me again. To this end, I hope it will become a reality.


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