Review: Love your enemies
“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths.”
Over my “staycation” this past week, I spent a lot of time praying and reading. One of the books I read was Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur C. Brooks (You may know him as the author of The Conservative Heart). I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with the division in our country and our world.
As the title indicates, he names the source of division as contempt – the view that the person you disagree with is unworthy of consideration. Rather than engaging in genuine disagreement or debate, many of us are likely to dismiss the person we disagree with as unworthy. One jarring statistic from the book was that “in 1960, only 5 percent of Americans said they would be displeased if their child married someone from the other political party. By 2010, that number was 40 percent, and no doubt has risen from there.”
We are deeply divided politically, and this division is spilling over into the other facets of life, including our religious and spiritual lives.
How do we begin to heal this division? How do we move beyond simply tolerating those we disagree with to loving them?
Brooks offers some very practical guidance on how to heal this division. Here are his five summary rules:
- Stand up to the Man. Refuse to be used by the powerful.
- Escape the bubble. Go where you’re not invited, and say things people don’t expect.
- Say no to contempt. Treat others with love and respect, even when it’s difficult.
- Disagree better. Be part of a healthy competition of ideas.
- Tune out: Disconnect more from the unproductive debates.
Reducing the book to one sentence, Brooks writes, “Go find someone with whom you disagree; listen thoughtfully; and treat him or her with respect and love. The rest will flow naturally from there.”
This is good advice for all of us in this politically divided world. If you are distressed by our current division and looking for practical ways to love those you disagree with, I would urge you to read this book.
Parish Pastoral Leader