With friends like these…

Can two people who are so completely different from each other really be friends?

Today, I was hanging out with a girl who I would consider to be one of my closest friends. It was her, me, and a mutual acquaintance. We were talking about the weirdest movies we’d heard about, when, in an effort to move the conversation to a more sophisticated arena, this mutual aquaintance uttered two little words that sparked an explosion.

Carbon.

Tax.

BOOM!

See, me and this friend know that we disagree on most of the bigger issues within society, but we’ve never gone into the details on this. It’s always been quietly ignored in favor of celebrating the things we have in common, namely musical theatre, taste in certain forms of literature and cinema, interesting cuisine. We’ve had playful arguments over the smaller things we disagree on, like colors, school subjects, interior decorating, but that’s always been the extent of it. We’ve never seriously clashed heads in a big way, and have (I believe) a pretty good tolerance level for our differences in lifestyle and opinion.

But today, suddenly, this line was well and truly run into the ground.

The carbon tax. Our mutual acquaintance had unleashed a beast. A pair of beasts.

I am all for it. I feel like I’ve read enough and know enough about it to see it’s a good step in the right direction for combating climate change. I think it’s been badly handled by the media and a lot of people don’t understand it completely, but ultimately it’s a good decision. I think that the carbon tax has really shown how greedy and self centered a lot of Australia’s are, considering the fact we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and certainly the best off when it comes to the issue of poverty and homelessness. We have real potential, but due to the conservative and selfish mindset of many of the people and of our government, this potential is wasted.

My friend disagrees whole heatedly. She thinks that a carbon tax will put thousands of people out of jobs, that it’s doing nothing for the environment, that the big businesses being taxed will simply raise their consumer prices and therefore raise the cost of living and therefore force people out onto the streets. She believes that as well as doing nothing for the environment, climate change and global warming is in itself, a myth.

Suddenly the urge to rip my face off was overwhelming.

I’m trying very hard to be objective here, out of respect for people who are of that particular opinion. I hate bigotry and it’s one of my life goals to never be a bigot, but really? Seriously? It was a moment of “is she joking? Is she serious?”

She was serious.

We argued about this for some time, and I’m not going to transcript it here. Ultimately, neither was able to convince the other they were wrong. Fine. We both have strong opinions, and so be it.

However, we did transition from climate change (which I would like to talk about more, but not right now) into our political beliefs. I am a proud greens supporter. My friend is a Liberal.

Boom.

On the off chance you’re not from Australia, The green are our countries main left wing party. The liberals (ironically) are the dominant right wing party. The green are not a major party, but they have an alliance with the current ruling party, the labour party, due to a hung parliament in the last election giving the greens the balance of power along with a few independents. Labour was able to negotiate a deal and therefore take power. The liberals were not.

Moving right alone…

So we exist at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to politics in Australia. Personally, I hate Tony Abbot with quite a vehement rage. I’m not keen on Julia Gillard (our Prime Minister) but at least I respect her. Somewhat. I have no respect for Tony.

Anyway. My friend very firmly criticized my green political beliefs, writing them (and me) off as extremists who wanted:

– to ban dogs in parks

– to ban the use of electricity

– to ban livestock

Um. No. That’s not accurate. I asked for evidence. She couldn’t provide. She shot that one back at me, I said that I wasn’t blindly following this party- I had (shockingly) looked into their policies first. She didn’t believe me.

Then I said “the greens don’t just look at environmental issues, they’re also concerned with human rights issues, refugees, legalizing gay marriage. I firmly agree with all these.”

AND THEN we got into tense territory.

My friend is very strongly OPPOSED to gay marriage. Now we were going to have serious issues.

This is probably the issue I put the most time and effort into. I think the governments attitude surrounding same sex marriage and the rights of GLBT individuals is absolutely pathetic. It sickens me such an obvious breach of equality and fairness can still be around today in the supposedly “modern, progressive and free” society . Diversity my ass. The way GLBT rights are handled in Australia, with couples being barred from marrying even if they go over seas to a country where gay marriage is legal (you need a permit from the government to marry overseas, a permit the labour government refuses to grant to GLBT couples) disgusts me. It makes me ashamed to be an Australian.

So, long story short (too late), my friend and I severally butted heads over this one.

This transitioned into religion.

I am an atheist. Religion is not part of my life, and hasn’t been for some time. I’m not going into that right now, maybe later. But my friend is very much a christian. A very devoted christian. This has never been an issue with us, but in the heat of debate, this did come up in quite a heavy way.

Interestingly, I think I may have ‘won’ that aspect of the debate. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that neither one of us could win, because neither could convince the other.

My friend is very intelligent, and very nice. I like hr a lot, but when it comes to stuff like this I really felt like I was driving a metal spike into my skull.

How are we friends? How, when we clash on so many levels on issues that really are big and really do matter?

I really don’t know.

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