Clearly friendship can survive deep disagreement if it is over some abstruse topic in the philosophy of language, say. The question I intend, however, is whether friendship can continue among those who find themselves in profound disagreement over matters that touch us 'existentially.' Politics and religion supply plenty of examples. Here too friendship can survive and even thrive. It may be worth reminding ourselves of this in these dark times.
In an optimistic piece entitled "The Value of Unexpected Friends," K. E. Colombini cites examples of prominent ideological opponents who were on friendly terms. The case that surprised me was the friendship of Ruth Baader Ginsburg with the late Antonin Scalia.
When Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly in February 2016, perhaps the colleague who mourned the most was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While they differed greatly in their day jobs, they formed a surprisingly deep friendship based on mutual respect and interests. [. . .]
“From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies,” Justice Ginsburg’s statement reads, in part. “We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.”
[. . .]
One of Scalia’s more famous quotes, shared often in social media these days, was given in a 2008 interview on 60 Minutes: “I attack ideas, I don’t attack people—and some very good people have some very bad ideas.”
[. . .]
Separating ideas from people, like hating the sin but not the sinner, is a challenging act, but it is one that is ultimately valuable. Taking the time to get to know someone—even the person we battle with—opens doors that help us understand not only the debated issue, but also ourselves, better.
While there are cases of ideological opponents who remain on good terms, there are even more cases in which they don't.
Colombini article here.