Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt
Recommended by: Jennifer Livingston
Posted in: Bridging Divides Social PsychologyPurchase →
Social scientist and former president of the American Enterprise Institute, Brooks offers a radical solution to today’s political divisiveness – not mere toleration or civility, but love. Grounded in both scientific research and timeless lessons from philosophy and world religions, Brooks encourages readers to lean into their disagreements with open hearts and curious minds.
One Review for “Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt”
In this accessible book, Arthur C. Brooks synthesizes research findings and arguments from sources that may already be familiar to Braver Angels. You’ll find Haidt and Graham’s work on the different moral foundations of liberals and conservatives, Bishop’s theory of “the big sort,” widely-cited data from The Pew Research Center, and ideas of mainstream intellectuals at Vox, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. Brooks even cites our own David Blankenhorn. So if you are well-versed in the research on the causes and effects of contemporary polarization, you might find yourself skimming some parts of “Love Your Enemies.” If not, his wide-ranging survey makes “Love Your Enemies” an excellent place to start.
Brooks’ contribution to this ever-growing body of literature is an actionable five-rule prescription for reducing polarization- today, starting with your own heart, in your own backyard. Radically simplifying his own advice, he says, “Go find someone with whom you disagree; listen thoughtfully; and treat him or her with respect and love. The rest will flow naturally from there.”
As a free-market conservative, I found his “Rule 4: Disagree better. Be part of a healthy competition of ideas,” most appealing. We don’t need more agreement, he says, we need to respect others enough to engage earnestly and seriously with their ideas. Brooks’ background in economics echoes here, though it is also informed by his Catholic faith and ideas from other world religions.
Leavened with personal stories and written in an almost conversational tone, “Love Your Enemies,” is an easy, inspiring read. Following Brooks’ prescriptions is not so easy, but this book offers a practical guide to navigating the minefield of today’s divisive politics with grace and, yes…even love.
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