A thought keeps making its way around my conversational and social media circles that needs a bit of attention I think. Generally it is phrased along the lines of “Just because I disagree with you (or your ‘lifestyle’) doesn’t mean I hate you.”
I agree. I disagree with many things people say and do without hating the people who say and do them. Here’s the thing though–like so many of our thoughts it should be tempered with at least a couple of balancing thoughts. The first is that sometimes disagreement DOES become an avenue of hatred, or certainly at least of despising. Any time we fixate on what someone else is doing we are walking through a dangerous door. The voice of wisdom keeps calling us back to our own thoughts and actions, the only ones we have at least a tenuous measure of control over.
The second balancing thought is this–while disagreement isn’t necessarily hate, neither are judgment and condemnation usually love; which is likely why so many voices of wisdom across the ages have warned us against them. Historically speaking, it’s truly terrifying to consider the suffering unleashed by those claiming some moral, spiritual, or intellectual high ground. Morals are like fire–they can bring us warmth and light, but if not properly contained they will burn down the house or even an entire city or forest.
So if we find ourselves thinking it’s time for some good, old-fashioned pontificating at someone about their words or walk, we need to proceed with caution. We best make sure that we recognize that love is gentle and kind and patient and puts others before ourselves and that if we fail to ring our fire with such stones instead of light and warmth we may experience only burning and destruction.