Can “Love Thy Enemy” Be a Winning Political Strategy–as Well as a Healing Balm for a Divided People?

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We know that the US is riven by deep divisions—and that other countries are going through similar struggles. We also know that most people are unhappy with the anger and hostilities—and anxiety about politics and world events is high.

Against this backdrop, I found the final question in the fourth Democratic Presidential debate, held in Ohio on October 15, instructive. Moderator Anderson Cooper asked each of the 12 candidates (the largest group of debaters ever) this question, involving Ellen Degeneres, a popular US talk show host who gained praise in 1997 when she publicly announced she is gay:

“Last week, Ellen Degeneres was criticized after she and former President George W. Bush were seen laughing together at a football game. Ellen defended their friendship, saying, we’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different.”

“So in that spirit, we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impact it’s had on you and your beliefs.”

I’m touching on the responses that I found most relevant (regardless of my opinion of the candidates who voiced them). I’ve shortened them from their verbatim rendering in The Washington Post’s transcript.

Julian Castro: “Some of the most interesting friendships that I’ve had have been with people…who thought different from me…and I think that that should be reflected more in our public life. I believe that we should be more kind to other folks. And there are people, whether it’s our former president, George W. Bush, or others…just as we should be kind, we shouldn’t be made to feel shameful about holding people accountable for what they’ve done.”

Amy Klobuchar: “For me, it’s John McCain, and I miss him every day…I remember being at his ranch when he was dying. He pointed to some words in his book because he could hardly talk. And the words say this: ‘There is nothing more liberating in life than fighting for a cause larger than yourself.’”

Cory Booker: “The next leader is going to have to be one amongst us Democrats that can unite us all,…teach us a more courageous empathy, and remind Americans that patriotism is love of country, and you cannot love your country unless you love your fellow countrymen and women.

“And love is not sentimentality. It’s not anemic. Love is struggle. Love is sacrifice. Love is the words of our founders…the end of the Declaration of Independence that if we’re ever going to make it as a nation, we must mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Pete Buttigieg: “I think about the friendships that I formed in the military, people who were radically different from me, different generation, different race, definitely different politics. And we learned to trust each other with our lives…It’s also about building a sense of belonging in this country, because I think that’s what friendship and service can create.

“I think we have a crisis of belonging in this country that is helping to explain so many of our problems, from our politics being what it is to the fact that people are self-medicating and we’re seeing a rise in the deaths from despair…The purpose of the presidency is not the glorification of the president. It is the unification of the American people [to] pick up the pieces and guide us toward a better future.”

 

I’m focused on these responses because they capture what I believe is the most important and difficult task our next president will have: uniting us as a people. And that effort is needed in many other areas throughout the world.

Cory Booker’s exhortations to love reminded me of an exchange I had with one of my fellow bloggers: Gary Gautier, who blogs as Daedalus Lex and calls his blog “Shake My Head Hollow.” Gary is a very thoughtful guy who often examines philosophical and ethical concerns on his blog. (He also writes wonderful poetry).

Gary’s recent post–which stimulated this inquiry–was titled:

“The political thing no one wants to hear”

The post itself consisted solely of a quotation from Ram Dass, a revered spiritual leader (and former Harvard psychologist, then known as Richard Alpert) who has pursued numerous spiritual approaches, including Hindu, Zen Buddhism, Sufi, and Jewish mystical studies, according to his biography. His most influential work is the book Be Here Now, which has been called “the Western articulation of Eastern philosophy and how to live joyously a hundred percent of the time in the present, luminous or mundane.”

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Ram Dass

Here’s the Ram Dass quotation, followed by my discussion with Gary, who has graciously agreed to my including our exchange as well:

“You can only protest effectively when you love the person whose ideas you are protesting against as much as you love yourself.”

My Query to Gary:

I saw Ram Dass interviewed a while back. His stroke seriously impaired him, but as I recall, he reflected that he has been happier since then because now he really has time to observe and reflect.

I am having difficulty envisioning the kind of protest he describes. Did Martin Luther King and John Lewis love their oppressors? Forgive? Probably. Understand? Very possibly. But love? And Mandela? Same question.

Can anyone protesting the people who put babies in cages and open the gates to genocidal acts feel love for those they’re protesting against?

What am I missing here, Gary?

Gary’s Response (with citations):

When Mandela entered the prison on Robben Island, his white guards were predictably brutal, and yet he never gave up on them; he engaged them, believing that “our occupation of the moral high ground could make it possible for us to turn some of the warders round,” and as years passed he won many of them over into “appreciating our cause,” and several of those guards became allies and attended his first inauguration. (Anthony Simpson’s biography, 214, 275, Part II).

And how, Gandhi asked, could he be angry with his colonial oppressors when “I know that they sincerely believe that what they are doing today is right” (Autobiog, 166). Gandhi’s bottom line is that “it is quite proper to resist and attack a system” but one should never “attack its author” (242).

I think both had found Ram Dass’s truth – that beneath vicious action is generally a confused or mangled soul. Fight for what you know is right, fight against those who wreak havoc on humanity, lock them up if you have to, but don’t give up on the spiritual imperative to help those who are most morally fallen – from people on death row to the politicians whose actions you find vicious.

I believe Martin Luther King had reached the same transcendental space of love. In contrast to today’s woke crowd, who all-too-enthusiastically reduce people to “enemies” and “racists,” King saw white people as much more than just racists and was ultimately much more optimistic about America’s founding principles and about the American people — including white people.

This is all hard to see as we duke it out at street level, but these spiritual masters were able to view it from a million miles above, from the perspective of unlimited compassion, viewing themselves below fighting the good fight in the trenches, and viewing their opponents and all others in the same light.

I’m sticking with Baba Ram Dass on this one.

And My Response…

I thank you, Gary. I practice mindfulness meditation, and an important aspect of that is lovingkindness: “May you/I/we be filled with lovingkindness.” I have often sought common ground in my blog posts. I do try very hard to walk in the other person’s shoes, so I don’t rail against the folks at the hate-filled rallies with the vehemence of many people I know.

But I am a long way from loving those in power whose cruelty and/or indifference is damaging so many individuals and our society/world.

I shall try to dig deeper—without faulting myself if I fail. The Ram Dass bar is exceedingly high for us mere mortals.

My Questions for You, Dear Readers…

We are all tearing ourselves apart with our political hatreds now. It’s no good for us as a country, as members of the world community, and certainly as individuals: think of the levels of stress-induced cortisol coursing through our bodies. We need a better approach.

Can we get beyond this point via the Ram Dass message? Regardless of which side of the political divide we’re on, can we “hate the sin but love the sinner”?

If you share my strong feelings about this president and those complicit in his actions, can you and I, personally, look beyond all the devastation that we feel President Trump is wreaking on people and nations and try to find compassion for the clearly damaged, wretched soul that resides within him—and the frightened, worried people working with him or supporting him? (That doesn’t mean we don’t hold him/them responsible for their actions!)

If you’re on the other side of the political divide, can you find it in your heart to feel that those of us who differ with you politically are not your enemies? That our wants and needs as human beings are, on the most basic levels, quite similar to yours?

(I realize I’m leaving out the vast middle here, those who are just unhappy that things in their personal lives aren’t going as well as they’d like—and are simply trying to make do from one day to the next.)

Can we all shift our focus from people to problems, and work together for the greater good?

Just days ago, we lost an invaluable American statesman: Congressman Elijah Cummings from Maryland, who died at age 68. “A Pillar of Baltimore Who Was ‘Loved by All,’” wrote The New York Times. In his years in Congress, he worked assiduously across the aisle to get things done for the people he represented and the country he loved.

Apparently, when President Trump attacked him on Twitter this summer, calling his district a “rodent-infested mess,” some of Cummings’ constituents wanted a full-throated response. Instead, Cummings calmly observed: “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors.”

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Congressman Elijah Cummings

Being “nice” to the President was an example of the spirit that made him unique, according to his friends. His church pastor said Cummings was…

“…so much larger than what he was…He was something so different. He was not the angry protester. He was not the passive peacemaker. He was the deliberate man who stood for right and wrestled wrong until right became the natural winner.”

I have a strong sense that Congressman Elijah Cummings was the embodiment of the Ram Dass credo that Gary Gautier has brought to our attention.

Tell me, please: What do you think of all this—as political strategy and/or guidance for life? Can you accept the concept of loving the person whose ideas you are protesting against as much as you love yourself? Even embrace the idea and consider/try putting it into practice? Feel it’s a fine idea, but…?

Or does this concept strike you as naive and unworkable? Do you think I’m nuts to even raise the issue in today’s political climate?

If the latter, do you have any other ideas concerning how we as individuals move ourselves out of our current angry divisiveness?

Annie

42 thoughts on “Can “Love Thy Enemy” Be a Winning Political Strategy–as Well as a Healing Balm for a Divided People?

  1. If “Love your neighbor as yourself” were the norm, truly the norm, if everyone actually did it, what a world this would be. Why is it so hard to do such a simple thing?
    Amen, Annie! Well done.
    Patricia

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi, Patricia–
      If I haven’t already welcomed you to Annie Asks You, please consider this my formal hello. I hope you’ll visit often and be motivated to comment as you see fit.

      Yes; it would be a wonderful world if “love your neighbor as yourself” were the norm, as you say. Unfortunately, for reasons well beyond both my blog and my pay grade, that clearly isn’t an easy task for many people. Think of all the fratricidal wars throughout history–and now. Think of all the families torn apart by differences stemming from politics, finances, or simply jealousy or personality clashes. When you take the long/higher view, none of it makes any sense. And I wonder how much of it stems from one’s internal perspective. Like the hackneyed example of the airline instruction to put on your own oxygen mask before you help a child, perhaps there aren’t enough of us who love ourselves–not in a selfish way, but in a way that enables us to be open and empathetic to others.

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  2. I sometimes wonder if the rapidly decreasing numbers who identify as Christian has any correlation with the increasingly harsh and unforgiving attitudes seen on both sides of things. I know that there have been many who profess a Christian faith but who fail miserably at the forgiveness part, but most recognize that it is something to strive for. Christ himself was countercultural to the extreme, a model for all who claim to follow him.
    It’s one thing to agree with the ideal even while failing to live up to it, but another to not even recognize the ideal as anything of merit – a direction that Western culture is moving every year.
    I do not have data, I just wonder.
    An excellent topic.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well said, JP. A thing I wonder about it: Whatever happened to tolerance? Whatever happened to Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? I think Ellen Degeneres should be applauded for demonstrating that people of different viewpoints can coexist (at least at a football game!) and even laugh together. Why do people think you have to agree on politics in order to peacefully get along, in order to even have a pleasant conversation? How did politics become everything that matters? There is so much more to life, so much more to talk about, wonder about, marvel at, discover, treasure, uphold. So much more.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. JP, I have great respect for your feelings about your faith and your devotion to its practice. As to your larger point, however, I have noticed the prominence of Evangelical Christians among the President’s supporters, and he sure doesn’t seem to me to be a fine example of Christian teachings. In addition, you and I both know that some of the worst travesties to humankind over the centuries have been committed in the name of religion–Christianity and others. On the other hand, some of the finest people I’ve known belong to the Ethical Culture Society; some profess a religion, others don’t. To my mind, Christianity–indeed, religion per se–may be a force for good in many people, but is not essential to ensure that people are kind and empathetic and lead an ethical life.

      As to whether Western culture is moving away from the ideal, I just don’t know. In general, or as compared to what or whom?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I sure do, Gary, and I thank you for helping me launch this interesting, continuing discussion. I assume you’ll feel free to engage with any of the correspondents if you choose to do so. As you’re more deeply imbued with the Ram Dass credo than I am, I would love to hear your response to one person who preferred to remain anonymous. (While I’d rather people respond on my blog, I do encourage those who’d prefer not to comment publicly to connect with me via annie@annieasksyou.com.)

      Here’s the comment: “‘We don’t have to love their acts, but we should embrace the tormented souls of Hitler and his misunderstood band of merry men and others like them so they can see the light.’ If that isn’t the biggest bunch of poop…”

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      1. Hi Annie. I have little response. I understand the commenter’s point of view, and I certainly have friends who share that point of view, but I simply disagree with it. I can’t say I’m right and the commenter is wrong, but I do believe Ram Dass, Buddha, the real or fictional Jesus, and those who see the plight of all people from the far-above viewpoint of unlimited compassion would be more aligned with me. Without knowing whether the other commenter is right or wrong, I choose to align myself with them, as it seems to give me greater peace and understanding (without enjoining me to tolerate injustice), and with greater peace and understanding I at least have a slightly better chance of being a blessing to those I come into contact with.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Gary–
        What a lovely thought: to try to be a blessing to those you come in contact with.

        I appreciate your response. My friend Denise thanked me for asking the tough questions, but in this case, you get the credit (or “blame,” depending on one’s perspective!). I am grateful to you for enabling this enlightening discussion, which some of us have clearly seen as a blessing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry, but I cannot like, much less love, a person whose ideals, ideologies, philosophies, perspectives, or values are diametrically different from my own. I just don’t have the patience for such people. I believe each and every one of us has the right to his or her own beliefs and opinions, but that doesn’t mean I have to embrace those whose beliefs and opinions are incompatible with my own. If you’re wearing a MAGA hat, for example, I won’t engage with you. Life is too short to waste your time trying to talk sense to idiots.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I certainly understand your perspective, Fandango. As to the larger strategy, I am impressed when I hear Pete Buttigieg talk about his faith. You may have seen that when he was attacked for being gay, he responded something like: “Your argument is not with me; it’s with my creator.” He also frames his opinions on issues like immigration and social justice as being tied to his faith, as compared to the hypocrisy of those who profess their beliefs and advocate inhumane practices. I find that a welcome addition to our national debate.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If anything, I feel pity for those whose beliefs are diametricaly opposed to mine. They clearly lack the capacity to recognise, let alone understand, the truth. They will retort that I am being “elite” and/or condescending. And I am sure they feel just as strongly that it’s me who lacks understanding. I can and do feel angry and frustrated but hatred? Not for the person. For his/her actions definitely.

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    1. Frank, I know I responded to your comment earlier, but I don’t see my reply. In essence, I’m trying to find a way for us to communicate with others whose sense of the truth differs from ours—cutting through the anger and frustration in the hope that together we may serve the greater good.

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  5. I don’t see love or hate entering into it. It is a matter of supporting the Constitution. In politics what matters is law and justice. Playing the “love v hate” game plays into the hands of those who would subvert the Constitution. Did I “love” Hillary Clinton? No. But her experience, intellect, gravitas and common sense would have made her an excellent choice for president. Did I “hate” Donald Trump? No. But his history of racism, xenophobia, appealing to the worst in people and obvious corruption made him an unfit choice for president . And dangerous.

    When you get into the “love v hate” game you play into the hands of those who want government to be about “good v evil”, not about proper governance. It makes no difference if you love or hate politicians. What matters is that you hold them accountable to the law and justice. And justice is more important than the law.

    I want to see Trump impeached, convicted and eventually behind bars not because I hate him. But because that would be a just result of his actions. If you want to love him. Fine. Love him in the slammer.

    Do I “love” Warren? No. But I think she has the qualities needed for the presidency. Do I “hate” Bernie? No, but I think he is very Trumpian in his development of his personality cult and that bothers me.

    So, I guess I am saying that love and hate , on the personal level , has no positive place in our political system. It clouds the real issue…which is developing a more and more just society for all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Joseph,

      Your response is eminently sensible and a welcome addition to this conversation. I especially like your final point. The only problem is that most people do not operate in the manner you describe; if they did, we would not be having the dreadful divisions in our society. We need to get past the inability to communicate with one another without the name-calling and personal insults.

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  6. I think people of opposing view points should respect each other and at least hear what the other person has to say before judging or commenting. In today’s political climate people tend to shout each other down rather than respectful listening. In this era of social media every person has an opinion on something. This is election day in Canada and the debates between candidates were something to behold. Most of the format was open debate and all that accomplished was candidates talking over each other, making the whole affair incoherent to viewers. But that sums up the state of politics today. Everyone shouting over each other driving out any sane discourse. In viewing American politics I have more sympathy for Trump than his Democratic opposition. He was condemned before he was elected and this carried through to his presidency forcing him to spend most of his energy on fighting off spurious accusations rather than concentrating on running the country. Perhaps if he was given half a chance by the Democrats to see what he could accomplish for the country America would be further ahead. This in no way trivializes his many personal failings, but I don’t see him any different from Bill Clinton or past presidents. The only difference is he is not a life long politician who is adept at covering up personal scandals, but an in-your-face obnoxious business man who speaks his mind rather than hiding behind platitudes. I think Trump has been good for America in breaking up the political elite and shining a new light on politics. I did not agree with Trump on separating families at the border and I do not agree with his hanging the Kurds out to dry. In conclusion respectful dialogue for all parties is preferable to love. Thanks Annie.

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    1. Hi, Len–

      I’ll buy the respect and listen, rather than love argument.

      As for Trump, I’ll just note that he is playing things now precisely the way he did when he was a failed alleged real estate tycoon who went bankrupt multiple times. There was a reason no bankers wanted to back him. He is bankrupting us morally, politically, and financially–and playing to people who think democracy is overrated. I am not one of them. We have a Constitution with checks and balances that had held us in good stead. He has defied it. You mention that you do not agree with his hanging the Kurds out to dry. It’s far wore than that. He has opened the door to genocide, given Erdogan everything he wanted, strengthened the hands of Iran, Syria, and Russia, and–something that we all should take very seriously–allowed the escape of many thousands of Isis prisoners that the Kurds helped us capture. These are terrorists who will go back to terrorizing. He said they’ll just go to Europe, as though we Americans shouldn’t worry about that. They will go wherever they choose–possibly including Canada and the US.

      And all this because he refused to listen to his seasoned advisors who told him for months that any withdrawal from Syria had to be careful and gradual and protect US interests and the Kurds. Now Erdogan is holding 12 American nuclear weapons and the alleged deal, like every trump deal, got nothing for us or the Kurds.

      Shine a new light on politics? Good grief! He is the most corrupt individual our country has seen since the Teapot Dome scandal. The entire Ukraine matter is about money. He claimed to drain the swamp, but he has surrounded himself with similar types of grifters, many of whom are in jail, under indictment, or under investigation.

      He threatens civil war if he’s forced from office. Hate crimes in this country have soared since his election. An in-your-face obnoxious businessman we could deal with. That is not whom we are dealing with.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. lens. An interesting take on Trump. Let me suggest why I opposed him and how his actions cemented that resistance.

      Mr Trump did not win the popular vote. Which means the policies he espoused were not the policies the majority of the American people wanted. His first job SHOULD have been reaching out and trying to bring people together. Instead, he used his power not to bring people together, but to increase the divisions.
      He did this by trying to destroy the ACA (Obamacare) which had helped put at least 25,000,000 more Americans into the health care coverage industry. He immediately pulled out of the Climate Change agreements and has denied the existence of climate change. He has ended many environmental rules and now air pollution is at its highest levels in 20 years. He approved a policy to separate migrant children from their parents and ship them across the country.He used vile language to describe black folks, Hispanics, liberal…really anyone who did not kowtow to him. He vilified anyone who may have opposed his actions.

      Now you suggest he was fighting off “spurious” attacks. “Spurious” means false or fake, as in fake news. What, exactly are you referring to? For example, his connections with the Russians (over 100) were documented in the Mueller Report. So that is not spurious. The many contacts with Russia were denied by him but found to be true. Including the famous Trump Tower meeting. His obstruction of justice was documented at least 10 times in the Mueller Report. So that is not spurious. He has been accused of being xenophobic, but his own words demonstrate that. Not spurious. He attempted to stop people from coming to the US based on their religious beliefs. He was criticized for that. Again, not spurious.

      Now we have the Kurdish situation and the Ukraine situation. Mr Trump and his attorneys have taken the position that he can do anything and not be held accountable to the law. Based on that he is refusing to cooperate with Congress in their legitimate role in our system of checks and balances. Not spurious.

      I would submit that Mr Trump has treated others very badly. On the other hand, the Dems have been building a legal case without calling him names, etc. Simply doing the job the Constitution requires them to do.
      Even at the height of the investigations by Congress into other presidents did any of them hold that they were above the law. Nor did they use the kind of incendiary language against fellow Americans that Mr Trump has used. (For the record, in modern times the following presidents have been investigated for possible wrongdoing by Congress: Nixon, Reagan, Carter, Ford, both Bushes, Clinton and now Trump).

      So, I respect your viewpoint, but from this side of the border it seems as though Mr Trump has made no attempt to bring people together, but has really divided people even more than before.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments Joseph. We will agree to disagree on US politics. I as a conservative in Canada am going though the same frustrations as the democrats in US. Trudeau/Liberals have just got in with a minority government despite losing the popular vote, despite Trudeau’s numerous blackface escapades, despite rumors of his groping young women, despite an RCMP investigation regarding his political interference with certain corporations, you can google the rest of his misdemeanors which are legend. One more point is on the fairness of elections. In Canada parties get elected on the number of seats. The Liberals won all 32 seats in Newfoundland, population 2.2 million. The Conservatives won 33 seats in Alberta, population 5.4 million. So in these two provinces the conservatives end up with approx the same number of seats as the Liberals though acquiring 2 million more votes. I could go on for ever because it is politics but I’ll close there.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Lens. We can agree to disagree, for sure. But I have a factual question about the Canadian Parliament. You seemed to indicate that Newfoundland with only 2.2 million people has the same representation as Alberta with 5.4 million. (32 seats vs. 33 seats) That seems quite unfair. Now, on Wiki it claims that Alberta has 34 seats in Parliament while Newfoundland and Labrador (combined) have only 7 seats. So, I am confused. Do you know which is the accurate number? My source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canadian_federal_electoral_districts

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ m interested in the clarification, but fairness is absent in many US institutions and locales for sure—from the Electoral College to Citizens United to gerrymandered states, etc. I think one of the most important efforts for our democracy to move closer to “one person, one vote” is Eric Holder’s “All on the Line” anti-gerrymandering campaign.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Hi Joseph. You are right Newfoundland has only 7 seats. I rushed my email. I should have said that it is the Atlantic Provinces that have 32 seats, which includes Newfoundland,Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Thanks for fact checking on this.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hi Annie: I agree that reform needs to take place in electoral systems. Which reminds me of another failing of Trudeau, he promised to change the ‘first by the post’ system if elected in 2015 but declined to pursue this once he got into power.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Timely topic. A couple of thoughts that I hope add to your discussion.
    1. I think there is merit in JP’s point about the correlation between the decline in religion and the political polarization we see. My take (and I am not religious) is that as religion faded as a means of transcendence for many folks they—oddly I would suggest—seem to have embeded their need for transcendence in to politics and into political figures. As a result when one questions their political beliefs or their chosen candidate it is taken very personally, as if you are attacking their religion. No data either JP but I think there is merit in your point.
    2. I’d like to say I get along well with all points of view but that’s not accurate. There are some folks where we can justifiably decide it is not worth the effort. Anecdotally I have Trump supporting friends who have called Obama’s daughters “the little negrettes”, believe they have a first amendment right to use the N word, get their news from Brietbart and believe the various conspiracy theories etc. I find there is no use having discussions with any of these folks about Trump or politics. I usually respond to them by saying “I’m glad I don’t live in your world.” And yes I struggle ethically with maintaining some of these long term friendships. On the other hand I have friends who support Trump, call him a “douche bag” “duffus”, “idiot” and readily agree, from what we see, that he is a despicable person. We can debate his policies politely and often times we tend to agree with an underlying policy (for example, we need to do something about China stealing intellectual property) and agree that he has characteristically mishandled it or undermined it with his attacks and comments.
    3. Annie in reference to your question about Evangelicals I have witnessed it first hand. My ex’s family had several Evangelical ministers in Mississippi and it was not uncommon for them to refer to Obama using the N word or using it to refer to African-American neighbors. They are big Trump supporters. Usually they defend their choice by saying they are getting what they want on the Supreme court or with hopes for abortion restrictions. I will leave you with the anecdote I have given them (which they don’t like). There used to be an old joke about the guy and gal in the barroom. He offers her $1M for a BJ. She says “sure.” He then says “will you do it for a dollar?” She replies “What kind of woman do you think I am?” He says “We’ve established that we are just negotiating price now.” I suggest to you that that is what Evangelicals are doing, negotiating their price, to the detriment of their espoused ethics.
    Finally, on CBS news the other night they ended with this thought (I’m paraphrasing) “Do you have any friends who don’t agree with your political views and beliefs? If you don’t, why don’t you?” A good thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Michael, I appreciate your comment, and it’s good to hear from you. Perhaps you and JP are right about the impact of the decreased numbers of professed Christians on kindliness, etc. I can’t speak for him, but I’m not sure he was drawing the line you seem to be between that trend and politics.
      It’s good you have some friends whose politics differ from yours but with whom you can still have discussions. I wish there were more of those.
      And I like the closing thought you heard on CBS news. The media can be a force for good by trying to lure us out of our silos—rather than reinforcing them.

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  8. Excellent question for which I have no answer, Annie.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer the great German Lutheran pastor and theologian wrestled with that question when he decided to participate in the plot to kill Hitler.

    Assassination is not exactly an act of love.

    But Bonhoeffer decided that ridding Germany and the world of Hitler was the lesser of two evils.

    On the other hand, being consumed by hate is no good either.

    As can be seen by two African freedom fighters- Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe.

    Mandela chose to forgive his white oppressors and left office a statesman beloved by all South Africans of all nationalities and races.

    Mugabe continued to harbor hatred against whites and seized all farms owned by white farmers leading to famine in Zimbabwe.

    Mugabe left office a despot and dictator respected by very few.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a great piece, Annie. Tough question — though as I read the foundations you lay out, it shouldn’t be so tough, I know. I like the sentiment on Elijah Cummings: “a deliberate man who stood for right and wrestled wrong until right became the natural winner.” I feel that’s a toehold, the idea of being deliberate and clear in one’s sense of right and wrong. It strips, perhaps, the emotion of hatred out of the equation? Not sure, but I’m going to try it out for a while to see if it expands my thinking, and more to the point, my heart, to include some compassion and understanding for those with whom I fundamentally disagree. As for enemies? The people who are far more advanced in doing harm than simply those with whom I fundamentally disagree? Let’s see if my attempt at deliberateness works to include them as well in my tolerance and understanding if not compassion. You ask the best questions, Annie, which is to say the hardest and most important. Keep up the good work — and thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Denise. I think these are tough questions for many of us mere mortals.
      The description of Elijah Cummings was one of my favorite parts of this post.
      I’m grateful for your continued support.

      Like

  10. Annie – did you get my message re my mom being in hospital and not having internet access while I stay with her after discharge, so I have not been able to read on here for 3 weeks.

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      1. Thanks Annie…..I replied to your first comment some time ago – it was under my Plein Air Painting blog? We are both on the mend, although I am still coughing with my cold, even though it’s been a month, it seems to hang on. My mom was in hospital with a gallbladder flareup and I’ve been staying with her upon discharge, mostly to manage her antibiotic regimen, as she is much better, but could not take the first set of antibiotics as it made her dizzy. They are not wanting to do surgery at her age unless necessary. She does not have internet access as she does not have a comptuer at 93, but I am getting plenty of CNN and politics which is quite interesting! I am dying to get caught up here, but not likely to for another week or so. Thanks for thinking of me/us! Joan

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Annie, I like what you’ve written here, and agree with it basically, I think. I’d use the word “respect”, rather than “love”, and I don’t think someone you disagree with politically needs to be, or should be, your enemy. One of my partners when I was working was a “rock ribbed” Republican, who never ever voted for a Democrat (I once asked him if he’d vote for Adolf Hitler if he were the Republican Presidential candidate, and he said “yes”), where I was an equally strong Democrat in my voting history (though not quite as exclusive as him). Nevertheless, we always were, and still are, the best of friends. I think the current tendency of calling the other party (whichever that may be) “the enemy” is deplorable, and the sooner that stops, the better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Do you think your former partner was serious about his Hitlerian choice—or was he trying to be provocative?
      I’d settle for mutual respect, but the Ram Dass/Mandela/ Gandhi/etc. position seeks transcendence, as Gary Gautier points out. As I noted in my exchange with him, that’s a tough bar for most of us mere mortals to reach. In this country, at this time, respect would be wonderful.
      I appreciate your comment.

      Like

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