Speaking of Enemies
David Mills on Good Men & Bad Opinions
The other day a friend sent me what he thought was an encouraging—or perhaps a convicting—message. It quoted G. K. Chesterton’s words in his Autobiography about his friendship with George Bernard Shaw. “I have argued with him on almost every subject in the world, and we have always been on opposite sides, without affectation or animosity. . . . It is necessary to disagree with him as much as I do, in order to admire him as I do; and I am proud of him as a foe even more than as a friend.” The writer continued:
These are golden words, given how often (and how easy) it is to personalize policy disagreements. The Political Temptation is to turn differences over issues into attacks on character. Motives, and not merely judgment, are called into question. But you know all that. Chesterton’s words speak of a different and sometimes more difficult, but a higher and a better, way. I thought Chesterton’s sentiments and example may encourage you. They did me.
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David Mills has been editor of Touchstone and executive editor of First Things.
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