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Devaki Sokaris

Contemplating life

Friends with diverse beliefs

Can we really have true friendships with people we don’t share the same values, spiritual or religious beliefs?

Yes, it is possible to have these conversations with people and I have had them with many over the years from all walks of life. However, they did not go on to be a friend in my life. Many of these conversations can happen with strangers or people that come into our lives for a short time.

I respect people to have their own beliefs religious or spiritual, but I do not accept people that use their religion as an authority to harm humanity. Many of them are narcissists and psychopaths. I do not identify as Christian or religious and I was brought up by Christian parents. They were protestant and often made sly remarks about Roman Catholics and their way of life. I just kept out of it.

I was surrounded with kids at school that were mainly protestant or roman catholic because these are the main religions in New Zealand, and most people were religious back then. When I started my nursing career, I had many friends that were catholic but not as strict practising catholics like their parents, thus they only went to church on the festivals.

I often wondered how well we would have all got on if we had shared our spiritual beliefs, with one another. I was the only one that identified as being non religious spiritual, but I never spoke about it to them. My brother and I used to have these conversations because he did not identify as Christian either. Both our parents were aware of this and accepted it. My friends only mentioned their religion when they were going to church for Easter, Christmas etc.

For the most part I have got along fine with Christians, unless they tried to preach and convert me, then it was goodbye from me. However, I do believe in these friendships we kept to ourselves about these matters so as not to create conflict. People who are grounded in their beliefs do not need to look outside themselves to confirm their truth. The truth is revealed within us; thus we must discover it from our experience, not our belief. When you have that you live in awareness of that with no need to get others on board to convince yourself it is true.

A friendship where we must always be careful what we say, so not to push other people’s buttons isn’t really the concept of true friendship where you can just hang out together and be yourself. Its not that we have to share each others beliefs, but we should be able to talk about them without unnecessary conflict because they differ from one another.

On social media we meet people from all over the world with different values, spiritual and religious beliefs. As we know this does cause arguments and somewhat unhealthy debates. We are not really friends as the looseness of social media suggests. Those of us who speak often with one another, how well would we deal with each other if we have a conflict of interest or disagreement?

Some of us have had this happen and we are still in each other’s lives online, and some people block us instantly for misunderstandings or for the smallest of things, so this gives some insight into how well we really get along and what we tolerate from one another. At best we are online acquaintances sharing in topics we like to talk about. How well we would get on in real life remains to be seen. For most of us I don’t think it would go down based on our online experience of one another.

Whatever our values, spiritual and religious beliefs shape who we are and how we live our lives, so even if not spoken about, it is still running in the background of how we interact and meet the world. In the end it comes down to how flexible we are willing to be when it comes to friendship so not to loose being true to ourselves.

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