Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Have important conversations, even when you don’t want to

Illustration+Kellyn+Taylor
Kellyn Taylor
Illustration Kellyn Taylor

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice. 

Communication is the key to healthy relationships. That is a tale as old as time and a truth universally recognized. 

Communication in any relationship—platonic, romantic, familial, or in any other context—is strongly valued. However, one essential aspect that is often overlooked is the ability to confront your partner and stand up for what you believe in.

I don’t mean confrontation in the social sense, in the “you did something wrong to me, so I’m confronting you about it” way. While it is also important to take accountability for issues in the relationship, I’m referring to confronting your partner about values and beliefs, both in general and political. 

We live in a world of conflict. The path of least resistance in relationships can certainly be avoiding these discussions, treating our social time as havens from the horrors of the world. Why does it matter what my partner thinks of a war happening overseas, or tax cuts for the rich, or our legal system? We’re not starting a business together, we’re just hanging out. 

Would you rather find out that your significant other subscribes to beliefs that are racist, misogynist, or prejudiced in any other way when you first start dating and can decide to either educate them or protect your peace and leave them, or when you’ve just signed marriage papers? 

I know which option I prefer, and it isn’t the one where I am stuck, for at least a matter of time, with a partner who does not value human lives and freedoms the same way I do. 

There have been numerous articles and advice columns written about how to maintain relationships with people who have different political beliefs, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. I do not think it is immature to end a friendship or relationship with someone over fundamental differences in beliefs. Minor political differences are entirely manageable; disagreements are a natural and unavoidable part of any relationship. We are all simply different people.

But, if I get to the point where I have to consult an online article about sacrificing my beliefs in a relationship to avoid said relationship from ending, then it’s not worth it anymore. You should never have to compromise your core values for someone else, no matter how important that person may be to you in the moment. 

Encourage open discussion in all of your relationships. Sometimes people don’t mean to say prejudiced things or support prejudiced ideas; they are simply uneducated about how those beliefs are hurtful. That doesn’t make what they say right or okay, but it does mean that you can educate or provide them with sources to gain an understanding. In these cases, speaking up about these issues means that you are shifting their perspective and mindset before that ignorance gets the chance to turn into hate and your relationship goes past the point of no return.

I myself had a friend who was uncomfortable with discussing anything she found “depressing,” which meant that I wasn’t able to express my discomfort about things she said that were ignorant of the world at large. When it got to the point where I felt she was stifling important conversations about the current effects of colonization in the United States and worldwide, despite making often problematic offhand comments about the topic, I decided that I could no longer sustain a healthy relationship with her. 

She is not a fundamentally bad person, but she was unwilling to forgo her ignorance for important conversations and education about major issues with the world. I was not prepared to subscribe to that ignorance when so many are suffering every day, and that was an incompatibility between us that betrayed underlying problems in our friendship. 

If you are uncomfortable talking about these topics, consider whether you are comfortable with that person at all. Or even consider questions like: If I can’t talk to this person about who they vote for, or what they believe is right and wrong, how will I be able to talk to this person about other issues in the future? Would I be able to confront this person about cheating, or committing a crime, or using corporal punishment on their children if I cannot have a healthy conversation with them about their politics and beliefs? 

If the answer is no, I implore you to either work up to discussing these issues with that person or start deciding whether that relationship is something that is truly healthy and beneficial for you. 

The important thing to remember is that relationships can be a haven from the outside world, if you are able to share that haven with someone who shares your grief, your love, and your sadness for the state of the world. There is no way a relationship can be solace if those that perpetuate the wars and systems and policies that make the world such a horrifying place are hiding within that relationship with you. 

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About the Contributor
Ella Duggan
Ella Duggan, Opinion Co-Editor
Ella Duggan (she/her) is a freshman communication studies major from Wellington, New Zealand. She likes writing about sports, feminism, and pop culture. Outside of the Beacon, she sings tenor for the Emerson Acapellics, is an avid reader of romance novels, and loves hockey - Go Canucks!

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