How To Heal The Division In Our Culture

In his excellent book Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From A Culture of Contempt, Arthur C. Brooks cites an interesting study on what is known as "motive attribution asymmetry." 

Motive attribution asymmetry is a phenomenon that occurs when we assume that our own ideologies are based in love, while the ideologies of our opponents are based in hate. This leads people to hold one another in contempt. 

In fact, the researchers discovered that the majority of Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. suffer from such intense levels of motive attribution asymmetry that their feelings of contempt for one another are comparable to those between Palestinians and Israelis. 

Theologian David Dark recently noted that we are too quick to assume the best of ourselves and the worst in others--almost always without taking the time to think critically.  He writes:
People take time.  But in our haste, we size them up or cut them down to what we take to be a more manageable size, labeling people instead of trying to hear, understand or welcome them. 
As followers of Jesus, we are called to higher standards of relationship with our fellow human beings.  We are called to take the time to listen, and truly hear other voices, other opinions.  We are called to assume the best of others, to seek their welfare, and to be quick to extend grace. 

If we desire to see less division in our culture and more mutual understanding, then those of us who claim to follow Jesus must live like him, and love like him.  And we must be slow to speak, and quick to show compassion and understanding.

May it be so.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.


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