People at Oxford are too principled. Get over yourself and just be friends.
There seems to be some confusion about the distinction between opinions and actions amongst the student body. Wouldn’t we just have more fun if we were friends and not debating fiscal policy?
‘You’re friends with them, don’t you know they’re a Tory?!?’ A phrase new to me when I arrived at Oxford. Yeah sure, that’s probs because I went to a school where the cis-het white male reigned supreme; women weren’t allowed to sit on sofas, gays were against the law and no one was darker than sun kissed St. Tropez (no joke). But regardless, what a thing to say! Just because of who they may or may not vote for every few years, you won’t be friends!?!?? But they’re so kind, hilarious, loyal, loving blah blah blah [insert admirable qualities here]
But all this is irrelevant as principles are really quite meaningless without action. If someone stole from single mothers to hit back at the welfare state or someone else bombed a bank to protest capitalism, then yeah sure maybe you wouldn’t want to be friends with them. But principles are really nothing. Just thoughts. Entirely theoretical. So why does everyone care about everyone else’s so much?
Maybe we all just take each other too seriously. We respect each other too much. We actually believe someone when they talk about fiscal responsibility or global equality. When both these people with supposedly conflicting opinions are actually in equal amounts of astronomic debt and love the MacBook their banking parents bought them, these so called ‘principles’ are really quite meaningless, with minimal impact on reality. So why bother getting hot headed about this fiction we create?
Frankly I don’t care if you think I’m going to burn in hell or that I’m first on the chopping block during the revolution, because hell doesn’t exist and were there to be a revolution you certainly wouldn’t be leading it. You’d be escaping in daddy’s Mercedes, bottle of claret in hand.
This is not to say that I think we should all just sit around talking about mindless crap and never think, question or debate. No of course not. I love the fact that during dinner at hall you could have a Marxist, Catholic and conservative (and maybe even an actual liberal) all discussing and debating whatever the issue is. Sure, it might get pretty heated, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be friends and won’t boogie the night away in Bridge.
The personal may be political, but the political is not personal. If you have differing views on American foreign policy, you disagree with the opinion, not the person. You would call me a bigot if I said ‘I could never be friends with them because they believe in God’. I’m sure you’ll also tell me that political beliefs have more of an impact on real life and are more indicative of one’s character than religion. But you’re wrong. If someone thinks they’ve got a ticket to heaven, whilst their friends are tortured for eternity that would certainly impact one’s character and outlook on life, probably more so than one’s views on quantitative easing.
Of course the political can be personal. If you’re a member of a marginalised group and someone is prejudiced towards you; that is personal. Fair enough if you don’t want to be friends, though it’s not compulsory to be enemies. I’m not straight and I have some friends who are by all accounts fairly homophobic, but as long as I don’t mention the fact pussy is a part of my diet then it’s not an issue. By the same token they avoid mentioning their disgust at sodomites and scissor sisters. In some ways it is affirming and a true mark of our friendship that we are friends despite my homosexual inclinations.
I haven’t always been this way. I was an exceptionally radical teenager. I walked out of a maths lesson aged fourteen, because it focussed too heavily around the profit motive (true story). I would get really upset by the many injustices in the world. I really worried about the environment. But now, I just don’t care enough. I’ve realised I won’t change the world. And frankly you probably won’t either. Revolution seems rather unlikely and the environment is fucked regardless. More importantly, I didn’t have as much fun when I was fuming about someone who expressed a view that was particularly conflicting with my so-called ‘principles’. Now I still care about these things, just not as much as I care about people. I’d choose laughter over liberty any day.
If we were all just nice and kind wouldn’t the world be a better place? I suppose what I’m really trying to say is that we should all just live under a rainbow of vague tolerance and healthy apathy.