Rhetoric is a powerful, persuasive thing, but we mustn't let it get in the way of friendship.
One of my best friends posted on Facebook about the independence referendum earlier, urging that Scots should "do the right thing". He's a Yes voter so for him the right thing is independence. He regularly posts blogs from Wings Over Scotland too.
Last week a conversation with other old friends saw one describing Scottish independence as "a step towards a positive inclusive future for all of Scotland's people", another telling me my view was that "the Scottish people can't be trusted", and a third saying that Scots had been "subjugated" by the English.
These are people I've known and loved for decades, and it can sometimes be painful to hear this sort of stuff from them. But it struck me later that my reaction wasn't really to do with their position on independence at all. I've never had particular problems maintaining relationships where there exist political disagreements. The world would be a boring place if we all only chose friends we agreed with.
No, the problem I have, I think, is with the rhetoric, not the opinion. And I say rhetoric rather than argument quite deliberately. "A step towards a positive inclusive future" isn't an argument. It's a conceit. And it's straight from the Scottish Government's PR handbook. "Things are bad; here is a change; we assert that it will be for the better." And if you point out it could easily be for the worse, you are dismissed as negative and fear-mongering.
The idea that Scots are "subjugated", that No voters don't think Scots can be "trusted", or indeed that there is a simple "right thing" to do in September - this is all rhetoric. And it is designed to sting - to jolt those on the receiving end into a change of view.
And that's politics, I guess; and we all do it, I guess.
But the main reason I felt the need to write this today was to make a promise, to myself more than to anyone else. I'm not going to lose any friendships over this referendum. I refuse to. I will see the rhetoric for what it is, and I will argue my case as best I can, but I won't risk something as important as friendship over something as unimportant as politics.
I love my friends, even the ones who are dead wrong. :-)