Why Opposing Evil Is Not Enough
One of the things I most hate about the current scene is the fact that politics have become cutthroat since the most basic realities of life have become issues rather than givens. Prior to my birth in 1960 (no, I do not believe my advent brought about what I am denouncing), what are called "social issues" to-day (infanticide, the nature of marriage, sexuality) were more or less givens shared by the vast majority of Americans. Political discourse was more about ways of achieving more or less common ends, rather than the ends themselves (though that did not keep them from being extremely contentious on occasion). Through the course of the 60s and 70s, the country's moral consensus was shattered, and those very basic givens themselves became the object of party politics, so that one's political opponents seemed to become almost another species of animal, rather than human beings. Civility --- itself a product of those givens --- flew out the window. The internet, which allows one to vent one's spleen across the entire globe with comfort and security, has exacerbated this.
Now, don't misunderstand me. I myself consider infanticide, etc., as evils and clear and present dangers. But I am also only too aware (and Lent certainly helps in thinking about this) that if I allow my opposition to these things to degenerate into hatred, and that in turn become both the sole focus and the justification for my life (as well as helping me feel REAL good about myself) I do not merely risk eternal damnation but a very poor and intellectually beggared life in this world as well.
So it seems to me that alongside --- and indeed, in a real sense, superior to --- my opposition to these things, I must cultivate love. Not only of God and the Faith, but of literature, history, the arts, and so on --- of all those things that make life worth living (while, of course, not forgetting the Source from whence they have come, or making them ends in themselves). It is simply not enough to oppose Evil; one must have a love and knowledge of the Good, as well, or risk becoming Evil oneself.
Part of acquiring that love and knowledge of the Good must mean interacting with people opposed to oneself on the issues I have mentioned. But pursuit of shared interests with such folk --- provided one keeps one's own views clear and paramount --- has a twofold benefit. It shows them that those with our views are not snarling hyenas, despite what they may have been told; and it allows us to come to know our ideological opponents as people of similar interests. No one ever converted anyone to anything without loving them first --- and you cannot love what you do not know.