He said something about being depressed and then told me he suddenly realized “this country is broken.”
I could’ve said a lot in agreement but instead I just waited, knowing full well that where politics are concerned, we tend to think a lot of the same things but for completely different reasons, and with completely different solutions in mind (if any). He went into a speech about how the government tramples all over people and businesses who seem to stand a chance of really getting ahead, while leaving people who have very little alone. I told him I was mostly in agreement except for the part about leaving people who have little alone. He said that with regard to the latter the government doesn’t interfere nearly as much as it could. I disagreed. I told him, unless anybody caught buying groceries were instantly subject to imprisonment without trial, I don’t know how much more they could do. That’s when things got ugly.
“Ok, for one, I’m talking about people who live on welfare and disability, not people who work for a living. And second, I really didn’t make this point to start an argument”
“okay, I see what you mean about being depressed because I don’t know what else would cause you to think I of all people was trying to have an argument with you. Really you know me a bit better than that, or at least I’d hope so.”
“True. It’s just that sometimes, you feel the need to show me how bad off you have it, and you don’t need to. I understand fully.”
Well, there was a good sock to the stomach. Thanks a lot, best friend. So he has somehow decided not only that I feel a need to show him how bad off I have it, but that he already completely understands my situation. Wrong on both counts, friend, considering that I actually try rather hard not to talk to anyone about my finances one way or the other most of the time, and also given some of his remarks and questions over the years, he has absolutely no idea how bad I’ve got it (which is actually how I prefer it; I have a human need for empathy but I really have no desire to be pitied). He was also wrong on the unspoken count that I am only thinking about myself in the course of this discussion (if you even want to dignify what this has almost instantly become by calling it a discussion). Well, time to put things into perspective.
“How do you know that’s what I’m trying to do? I’m not the only person struggling out there. And actually, if the truth is to be told I think it applies as much or more to people on disability, etc., than it does to someone in my situation.”
“really? How so?”
I started calling up examples of the many, many people I have known over the years who were in positions of unquestionable need and hardly enough money coming in to meet their needs, but whom the government would not and will not leave alone. Having nothing is no protection, and that’s why I’m more concerned with people who have trouble catching up than with people who have trouble getting ahead. The system isn’t broken for big time players in the economy or for entrepreneurs who innovate and get the cash to show for it; it’s broken for everybody, but for some of us it threatens our survival rather than our next multi-million dollar business deal. He had to admit he really had no idea how much grief the government gives people who have next to nothing; he had to admit that having nothing isn’t as effective at protecting one from the government’s interference as he thought.
He either couldn’t admit that he might have assumed too much about where I was coming from, or just plain hadn’t put two and two together yet on that one. I don’t know if you can really ask for an apology anyway when the problem is that someone thinks you’re prone to involving them in pity-parties (even though you’re not) and too selfish to participate in a discussion about politics competently (even though you’re not). Maybe all I can do is hope that standing up to his accusations took a step toward changing his mistaken ideas about me. Sit around hoping and hurting. A familiar situation for me.
I guess this all teaches me a few things about this relationship:
1) I can in fact prove an opposing point if I’m equipped with enough information.
2) When I prove him wrong about me he might or might not admit it directly.
3) What little talk I ever did about my financial headaches I must now keep to myself. I was a fool to think it was acceptable to admit aloud that I am anything less than certain that all will be fine and dandy for me financially no matter what happens. A best friendship cannot withstand that unscathed…though, oddly enough, I listen to him talk about being short on money almost daily, and it never bothered me or affected anything between us. I’m not sure why the same rules don’t apply to both of us but they clearly don’t. He can talk about money problems and I can’t.
4) We are making absolutely no progress on the subject of how to handle political topics. He knows I hate politics, I know he thinks I’m an idiot when it comes to politics, and he knows that I have come to hate politics even more since I realized what an idiot he thinks I am with regard to politics. Don’t even get me started on the subject of debating. So I have absolutely no idea what to do about that one.