On Wednesday I was a panellist on the Moral Maze, discussing the morality of friendship.
The programme asked: ‘When it comes to friendship, where should we draw the line? Some believe it is morally corrupting to befriend, date or marry anyone with different values, beliefs and lifestyle to their own. For others, friendship trumps morality, and we should do everything in our power to remain friends with others, short of those who have committed an irredeemably evil act.’
Personally, although I believe we have a moral duty to maintain a friendship with someone even though they have different views to us, I am much slower to develop a true friendship with someone who has a very different value system to mine. This value system may or may not be reflected in their politics.
I examined the guests to see what was their true motivation behind having a friendship with someone who has such different views to them. Often it turned out that there were quite instrumental reasons behind it – to improve debating skills or understanding of an issue, or indeed merely to virtue signal the fact that you can have friends of many different stripes.
However, it was clear that some had deep connections with others of a different political tribe – whether that was in spite or because of those political differences was less clear.