Love Your Enemies, by Arthur Brooks

Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of ContemptLove Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur C. Brooks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t think of a more timely book than this one; or a book that could do more to quell the “culture of contempt” that infects our society. Arthur Brooks offers us a compelling strategy for the formation of our character in relation to others with whom we disagree politically. This not a book of advice on how to avoid disagreement, a “can’t we all just forget our differences and get along” lament. Quite the contrary, Brooks believes that disagreement is good and necessary for the health of our culture. He offers us some guidelines how to disagree with respect and love for others. He presents real life examples of what can be accomplished when people of strongly differing mindsets agree to civil discourse, to hear one another out and respectfully reply with their own concerns. “… disagreeing better, not less, is what we need to lessen contempt in America and bring our country back together.”

At the end of the book he summarizes his message with rules for civil disagreement and for subverting the culture of contempt that we see in our country today. They will help you make deep and tasting friendships with others in spite of your drastically different points of view, avoid the urge to use attacks or insults that do more harm than good in any discussion. The importance of disregarding another’s motives, thinking the best of them when you disagree with someone and using the values we hold near and dear as a gift to others who disagree rather than a weapon. We can help subvert the culture of contempt by standing up to others who seek to manipulate us into a contemptible sort of discourse with others. In the worst cases these are people who are “on your side” of the issue but will goad you in to treating others unfairly or uncritically accepting falsehoods about others with whom you disagree. The suggestion of reading and listening to points of view with whom we disagree can help us to examine our own views more critically. We may not change our minds, but taking into account the best arguments that others have against ours can help us to be more informed and articulate in our own views.

Treating others with love and respect even when it’s difficult is and important discipline that will not only help others to listen to our point of view, but will make us happier and more confident people ourselves. “Contempt is always harmful for the contemptor.” Even when you are treated with contempt, it’s possible to see it as an opportunity rather than a threat. It’s an opportunity to change at least one person’s heart. Disagreeing better makes us part of the healthy competition of ideas that are a necessary part of a fair and just political process. Avoiding unproductive debates and giving yourself a rest from time to time from social media and inflammatory news feeds can also help us gain a less fearful and anxious perspective in life.

Brooks is a bit wordy and rambling at times in his illustrations, but all in all this is an excellent message for those of us with strong heartfelt convictions in life. It certainly help anyone live out and share those convictions with more confidence, joy and contentment.

View all my reviews

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply