Very few of us are good at extending respect and love to those who think differently than ourselves. It seems all issues today are all-or-nothing.
I’ve never been able to watch so-called reality TV, because so much of it consists of people shredding each other’s dignity. People come to fitness classes and laugh about the hateful things said by one contestant about another, and I just feel revulsion. I don’t understand how good people can fail to recognize how awful it is that we’re laughing at other people’s dignity being shredded.
And if that’s how we get our entertainment, then it’s no wonder we can’t even have civil discourse on the issues that matter most. The sentence following this quote in Gaudium et Spes talks about how, the more we respect and learn to understand the person who thinks or believes differently, the better we are able to enter into dialogue with them.
Doesn’t that sound like exactly what we need right now? This whole impeachment trial is a great example: the two sides aren’t even having the same conversation, let alone dialoguing. Those who support Trump won’t address the specifics of the case at hand, they just keep saying “Democrats have been looking for a reason to impeach since day one.” And those who loathe Trump won’t address that accusation. So it’s like we have two separate realities, because people will not treat each other with the respect and love called for in this excerpt from Vatican II. (And this is not just in Washington, but on our social media feeds.)
It’s worth reading all of Gaudium et Spes #28, because the context around this quote addresses the balance between respect and love and caring passionately about truth and goodness. It talks about the difference between error and the person in error. Lots of us say, “I love everyone, I just hate the sin,” but the actions and tone of voice and words used don’t show the love; they only show the hate. I’m well aware of my own struggles in this area, and I think the people who most vehemently insist on “love the sinner, hate the sin” are often those whose words and actions feel the most hate-filled.
How do we turn this around?