Sometimes I have to shut out all the political fighting that is going on in the United States today. Today I listened to Arthur Brook, President of the American Enterprise Institute and author of “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America”, talk about “The real problem with American politics.” I wanted to share his message in hopes that it helps you find a way to respond to the anger you may face when you disagree with the message others are sharing or others disagree with the message you are trying to share.
We don’t have an anger problem in American politics. We have a contempt problem in American politics.
Contempt is defined by social psychologists as the utter conviction of the worthlessness of another human being.
If you listen to people talk to each other in political life today, they talk to each other with pure contempt.
When somebody treats you with contempt, you never quite forget it. Unlike anger, which can be resolved, contempt leads to permanent estrangement.
So if we want to solve the problem of polarization today, we have to solve the contempt problem.
So what do you do when you feel contempt? Practice warm heartedness.
When I do that, when we do that, when we have leaders who can do that, it’s utterly world-changing.
But the answer isn’t for everyone to agree or to try to take politics out of decision-making. That would create an “undemocratic atmosphere” in which “bureaucrats run everything,”
That creates more contempt and more anger and more contention from the citizens. Don’t believe it? Look at the torches and pitchforks all over Europe today. It has to do with the fact that people don’t feel like they are being heard.”
Instead, he said, we must learn to disagree better.
Warm-heartedness isn’t for sissies. Warm-heartedness is for strong people. You can show true strength, if the next time you hear contempt, you answer with warm heartedness.
Every one of us is going to have an opportunity, whether it’s on social-media or in person to answer somebody’s contempt.
If we think differently, as leaders, and we act differently, and we show these values, then a better political future is possible in our countries. And it starts with us.
Are you going to do the right thing and make the world a little bit better, and show your strength and make your enemies your friends? Or are you going to make the problem worse.
That’s a question each of us gets to answer probably in the next 24 hours.
Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you take a breath, lean in, and practice warm-heartedness.
PS: Remember to hold the ones you love just a little closer and tighter this week (without expectations).
(image description: on one side of the picture is a red image that looks like a person with their fist raised towards a blue image that looks like a person with their fist raised facing the red person image. In between the red person and the blue person is a white image that looks like a person that is falling down, as if they are the casualty of the fighting between the red and blue person)