What happens when your morality, values, and opinions are pitched against that of your loved one? Frustration? Betrayal? Anger? Grief?
Although ideological clashes are hardly new phenomena, conflict over political opinions bittering family relations and friendships almost feels like an undercurrent of the times we live in.
In this week's episode of Not Fine, Thanks, we ask three young Indian millennials, Saptarshi (24), Samarth (28), and Zijah (30), how much ideology matters to them in their relationships and how they navigate the emotional strain of conflicts with family and friends over politics.
In the second part of the podcast, I speak with writer, filmmaker, and journalist, Natasha Badhwar, for a deeper insight into the issue.
'There Is No Gray Area Anymore'
"I think the difference in ideologies exists. Even if it's not political, there is always going to be your elders thinking something else, and you have a different opinion, but now it's like before you make friends or date someone, you consider if the ideology matches or not," says Zijah.
When we ask, if you ever had fights over clashing ideologies to the point where you had to cut ties with a friend, Saptarshi says, "All the time."
Though it did affect him at first, he adds, "My mental health will take more of a toll if I continue to be friends with them."
"I'm quite accepting of ideological differences, but in my opinion, anybody who treats anyone else in a discriminatory manner is where I draw the line."Saptarshi, 24
They go on to talk about how it's not just about which political party you support, rather your political opinion is a product of your core morality, and character.
"When you meet someone for the first time, they are always nice. These topics don't come up in the first conversation, right? So after a while, you must feel betrayed," adds Zijah.
"We feel the hurt collectively," says writer and filmmaker Natasha Badhwar.
"It's quite shocking what a polarised world we live in. We're living in a time when its absolutely okay to shoot off disinformation, to say bigotted things...and it's absolutely crazy trying to maintain relationships in this time, in trying to raise children."Natasha Badhwar, Writer, filmmaker
Balancing Your Political Opinions and Family Ties
"Friends and people we can ditch, but parents and family we can't," says Samarth.
This can make things a bit trickier.
Speaking of a personal incident of conflict with a relative, Zijah says, "We don't look at each other, we're maintaining a distance now. I didn't expect that to happen."
"He's older to me, and I would want to go to him and say hello, but now there's a lot of distance. Of course, this is also a big issue because he is an elder person so he didn't expect me to be so opinionated, and call him out."Zijah, 30
How Do You Deal With This Conflict?
"I am somebody who would really try to make efforts to them understand, and find a midway, but in most cases that does not happen, and it leaves you in a very bitter state because you really want this in your life otherwise. But there are some things that you are not okay with," says Zijah.
"Not engaging, cutting people off, and isolating ourselves among likeminded people is not going to solve any problems."Natasha Badhwar, Writer, filmmaker
When it comes to ideological clashes with parents or older relatives, "It's important to 'give them the benefit of the doubt, which is why we are able to make these small changes," says Samarth.
"I am proud of my parents because they are open to listening," he adds.
"On the other hand, we also have to not be condescending when you're telling a collegue or a friend, especially an elder person. You have to explain it to them subtly."Samarth, 28
"Protecting my online spaces, particularly my WhatsApp, helps me conserve my energy and not have to deal with the micro-aggressions so that when I meet the same people socially, I am not overwhelmed, and I find that I have the energy to look them in the eye," explains Natasha.