November 04, 2007


My Swedish friend just called; she saw what I wrote about her a few weeks ago.
I really hurt her feelings.

This post is about our resulting conversation. It is written to vindicate her. I am writing for the sole purpose of showing what a bonehead I am, because I want you readers to know that I screwed up, that I learned from it, and that the original post was never meant to be rude towards her.

She's a far better person than I am.

She was really hurt that I would use the word "superficial" in describing our friendship. She thought our friendship was fine, that it was deep, and that we've always managed to get along swimmingly. Sure, I like guns and she doesn't always get me, but she likes sports and doesn't feel like we have less of a friendship because I don't care about sports.

She then laughed and said that probably sports isn't the same thing as the Constitution.

It was really hard for me to explain why I wrote that post in the first place. I blog to work through things in my mind. To grok, literally. I needed to get this feeling off my chest and see what advice commenters would give to me. It wasn't a major problem; I didn't think it was something I needed to sit down and discuss with her. It was just a feeling I wanted to throw out there and see what you readers would say. And you came through for me with flying colors, giving me good advice and helping me realize that I was focusing on one small aspect of what it means to be a friend.

But my friend didn't have two weeks to work through things in her head; it was fresh to her and I needed to give her answers fast. I tried to explain why I wrote about it in the first place. If we had had a disagreement over health care or even Iraq, I am not sure that would've prompted me to write. But the right to bear arms is so fundamental, so important, so illustrative of someone's entire mindset. It's the 2nd Amendment that backs up the 1st. It's that important. That's why a discussion of firearms was a reminder to me of fundamental differences my Swedish friend and I have in our worldviews. It's not just that we don't see eye to eye on violence.

I am not even sure that I did a good job of explaining it to her again. I don't think I will ever be able to explain just how fundamental this right is in my opinion.

But she tried to grok. And that's what I had left out of the original post.

My Swedish friend may be European to the core. We may never really truly understand each other's values. But she always tries. She always listens and she always tries to see things from my point of view. She never judges me based on her own value system but tries to put herself in my shoes and offer whatever advice she can.

Like I said, she's a better person than I am.

What I conveniently forgot a few weeks ago when I got wound up over how deep (or not deep) our friendship is is that it's easy for CaliValleyGirl or Erin or AWTM to see eye to eye with me because they're almost always coming at the problem from the same worldview as I am. Shoot, it's easy for us to be friends. It's a far more impressive thing for my Swedish friend to have stayed friends with me for nine years, despite our differences, despite the fact that I couldn't care less about sports and she thinks knitting a gun for a baby is atrocious.

And what I realized through the course of our conversation is that our discussions are not superficial at all. I talk to her about other issues in my life, things I don't ever blog about. She made me realize that different friends fill different needs. If I want to talk to someone about linguistics, I would probably call Amritas over Erin, for the obvious reasons. If I want to talk to someone about the Army, Erin would make a better choice than Amritas. They're both my friends, but they have different expertise to fill different roles.

My Swedish friend definitely has a role to fill. And while she may not be the first person I'd call to say my husband wants to volunteer to go to Afghanistan, I would never feel like I had to hide that part of my life or values from her, and she would never make me feel weird about it either.

But she already knew this. She acted like it was the most obvious thing in the world, that it was bizarre that I'd even need to work through this sort of thing. All I could do is apologize and say that no one's ever accused me of being a genius. I hadn't fully thought it through when I blogged about it; that's why I blogged it. I wanted other people to point out the pieces of the puzzle that I had missed.

And I'm glad my Swedish friend gave me even more insight into what I was feeling. I'm just sorry that I had to hurt her feelings in the process. It was never my intention.

So the answer to my original post is that, yes, we can be friends despite our differences. Good friends. Or, at least we can if she still wants to be friends with me. I really screwed up.

All I can do is say I'm sorry for hurting her. Again and again.

Posted by Sarah at November 4, 2007 04:46 PM | TrackBack

I was once told that the sign of a true lady was one who apologized sincerely when the hurt someone else's feelings and/or was wrong.

I'm impressed with both of you!

Posted by: Lemon Stand at November 4, 2007 07:47 PM

I think maybe two people can differ widely on many things, and yet at core have a lot in common. There's a passage in "We the Living" (a much better piece of literature than Rand's later novels, IMNSHO) in which the anti-communist Kira is talking with her devoutly communist friend, Andrei:

" see, if we had souls, which we haven't, and if our souls met - yours and mine - they'd fight to death. But after they had torn each other to pieces, to the very bottom, they'd see that they had the same root."

Posted by: david foster at November 4, 2007 08:46 PM

More often then not, I find that it is the flaws, and disagreements that keep my closest friends the closest. The ones that we almost always agree with are the ones that I very seldom seek out. I still think that you learn more from failing, and discussion with anyone that will not agree with you, then from the ones we agree with. And with that very well written apology I think that you have shown just why you are friends.

Hope it all works out.

Posted by: dagamore at November 5, 2007 04:56 AM

Wow. I don't know your Swedish friend very well, but she doesn't seem to be the type to hold a grudge. Things will be alright.

But I take serious offense to the fact that you wouldn't call me to discuss linguistics! lmao.

Posted by: Erin at November 5, 2007 07:54 AM

Yeah, about me calling you this morning. I forgot my phone at home. I'll call you when I get off work.

Posted by: Erin at November 5, 2007 09:06 AM