“Misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.” (excerpted from Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther)
Our disagreements with others almost always are a result of process differences and our interpretation of their results rather than evil intent.
Ask a group of people at a political meeting these questions, and you’ll probably get the following answers:
- Who are the enemy? “Democrats!” or “Republicans!“
- Why are they wrong? “They ignore human nature and hate freedom.” or “They hate minorities, don’t care about the poor, and want to impose their beliefs on everyone.”
- What is our goal? “Take back the White House / stop Hillary Clinton!” or “Prevent the Republicans from taking over the Presidency!“
Are we so shallow to reduce those who disagree with us to villains?
Shouldn’t our enemies our own pride and selfishness? Shouldn’t our reasoning be “because it’s the right thing to do, no matter what I lose”? Shouldn’t our national goals be to promote liberty, protect lives and livelihoods, fight poverty, reduce barriers for self-improvement, stimulate prosperity, encourage innovation, and advocate true justice? Doesn’t pretty much everyone agree with these goals?
If someone else agrees with your goals and motivations, how are they your enemy?
If disagreeing with me makes you my enemy, I’ve made politics an end in and of itself.
Next time you disagree with someone, instead of taking their argument as a personal affront, seek the commonalities in your viewpoints and insist on finding their good intentions. You may just end up with a friend instead of an opponent.