During the week just past Scott Rasmussen, in a post intriguingly entitled, “The Culture Is Powerful Enough to Fix Our Broken Political System” wrote of listening to Arthur Brooks lecture on what will fix our politics:
Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, shocked many in the room by saying that civility and tolerance are not the antidote to political polarization. What, he wondered, would we think of his marriage if he and his wife were civil and tolerated each other?
The answer, according to Brooks, is that for our political system to work effectively, we need to love those who disagree with us. If we are attacked on social media, for example, Brooks said we should not fight back. Instead, we should offer a warm-hearted response. He encouraged everyone in attendance to seek out those who disagree with them and find a way to respond with love. Thank your opponents for taking the time to comment on your work. Thank them for their opinion. Show them you really care.
Which sent me to reevaluate a piece I wrote earlier this week about the fact that “love corrects.” I still stand by that, because in the scriptures I quoted there are adverbs and adjectives that call for “gentleness.” There is style, there is substance and there is making sure your style and substance match each other and reality. In other words, acting nice, while being spiteful just is not going to cover it.
This is why Brooks contrasts civility and tolerance with love. In the modern era, civility and tolerance are cover for spite and worse, not antidotes. But they are not contrasted to love, they are part of it – but only part. Brooks wants to make sure we partake of the whole enchilada. All of which has me thinking a lot about the nature of love.