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Megan McArdle offer some of the best advice I’ve heard in a long, long time:

The next time you are trying to imagine why the people who disagree with you are actively promoting the destruction of all that is good in the universe, grab a soothing cup of mint tea, put your feet up on a comfy pillow, and then close your eyes and imagine what those people would look like campaigning against something that is a very bad idea.  99 times out of a hundred, you’ll find that they look . . . well, exactly like they look when they’re campaigning against your idea.  And suddenly the whole thing is no longer so inexplicable, isn’t it?

I mean, we all know that that’s  ridiculous , because you have never in your life been wrong about any major question, or had a bad idea of your own, which is why you are so fabulously wealthy and married to the first person you ever dated, who is even now smiling at you in blissful perfection from the arms of your four flawless children.  But they don’t know that, you see.  As I think I’ve mentioned, they haven’t met you.  They won’t know anything about you until you finally accept that Nobel Peace Prize.  So you’ll have to content yourself with understanding that while you, personally, may never be in error, other well meaning people sometimes are.  And then still other well-meaning people have to get up off the sofa and point this out, lest they lead the entire nation astray.

This does not require arguing that the people who oppose you are right.  Obviously, if you thought that, they wouldn’t be opposing you.  It just requires a little more empathy, a little less tribalism.


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