Radical Centrism as charity

Another great post from fellow Christian-physicist-blogger David Mobley, about Politics, rhetoric, insults and charity. This fits in very nicely with my idea of radical middle political dialogue, or even post-modern paternalism. In particular, it reflects my understanding of love as choosing to identify others based on their positive nature, rather than demonizing them based on their negative actions.

[Read More] for some excerpts from David’s post.

I’ve been wanting to write something about how people have the amazing tendency to demonize people who disagree with them on political (or even religious) matters. Or, if we don’t demonize those who disagree with us, at least sometimes we assume they’re stupid…
…Now, it’s one thing to disagree with someone and explain why. But must everyone who disagrees with us necessarily be stupid? No. I think we could all benefit from a little bit of what they used to call “charity”:
Charity means … state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.
…When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less…
This same spiritual law works terribly in the opposite direction. The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them.
So said C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity”.
Well, what of my examples from above? …I think they may demonstrate the sort of ill-treatment of someone we disagree with that Lewis says leads to us increasingly disliking them.
Now, just to make myself clear: I’m not saying that we’re not acting in charity when we speak up against something that’s wrong. In fact, it is precisely because of charity that we ought to speak out against wrong: If a man is about to drive off a cliff, and I detest him, I’ll simply let him go. But if I care in the slightest about his well-being, I’ll warn him that he’s headed the wrong way, even if he doesn’t like to hear it. But I won’t shout out, “You’re a stupid idiot to be heading that way on that road!”
…So let’s try to have a bit of charity towards those we disagree with. We don’t have to like them, as C.S. Lewis says — for we don’t always like ourselves — but we have to desire the best for them. Generally speaking, they’re neither stupid, nor the anti-Christ. Perhaps they’re misguided, or confused — but all of us have been misguided, confused, or in error from time to time…