Diving into Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From the Culture of Contempt by Arthur C. Brooks head first!

love your enemies

Today is a big day, people. A red-letter combo day. I started reading a new book AND I started a new journal. Why is starting a new journal such a crazy special feeling? It feels like a renewal, a new start, like New Years Day all over again. A new life has begun, anything can happen.

I know I’m a bit strange, but I also know there are people out there just like me closing their eyes for a moment and thinking, “Mmm… Yeah. That’s the best.” Thank you, internet, for bringing us together!

One more thing before I get into my new book. Have you ever noticed that if you write any word repeatedly it starts to feel wrong? Like the spelling can’t be right, so you look it up again just to be sure, type it one more time and then let it go. That’s how I feel about the word “enemies” right now.

Once again, I find my memory far less consistent as I would like to be. I remember writing a podcast roundup the day after I heard Arthur C. Brooks on Freakanomics but scanning back I can’t seem to find it. I did, however, write a notecard and place it in my possible TBR file about the book Love Your Enemies. On it I wrote the date I made the card and the podcast episode I heard the interview on, so that is progress.

I do remember one thing correctly. I did share the episode on my Facebook profile because what Mr. Brooks said really did touch me and I wanted to spread that message as far as I could immediately. The title of the episode reflects the subtitle of the book, “How Can We Break Our Addiction to Contempt?”

The reason I remember so clearly that I did share this episode there was because of a comment I received from a friend. She “laugh reacted” the post. Not wanting to misinterpret her intent, I asked her why. Her response was a little disheartening. Once again, a person’s reaction made me take a step back from social media for a moment.

Only two people reacted to the post at all, which is typical of a post that references anything other than something pretty or politically enraging. It seems that all we really want is more distractions or more confirmation that our side is right to be so contemptuous. Something that suggests that maybe there is something simple we can do on a personal level to make things better is laughed away. It confirms the premise of this book.

Are we addicted to this feeling contempt we all complain about others throwing our way? Like drug addicts, are we ruining our health and happiness chasing after something we know we don’t want?

I believe we are. I’ve felt it myself.

The first lines of this book suggest to me that these ideas may be the antidote:

“I live and work in Washington, DC, but I’m not a politics junkie. To me, politics is like the weather. It changes a lot, people drone about it constantly, and “good” is totally subjective.”

“While politics is like the weather, ideas are like the climate. Climate has a big impact on the weather, but it’s not the same thing. Similarly, ideas affect politics, but they aren’t the same.”

“However, even a climate scientist has to think about the weather when a hurricane comes ashore, and that’s what’s happening today.”

I do have one issue with that word, the one I’ve written so much this morning that I’m starting to think it looks spelled wrong, “enemies.” I think I know what he’s doing here, luring you in with an inflammatory word. Ultimately, I believe those who have not read the book will get the wrong idea about what he’s suggesting in the text. Having different ideas about what’s important, what needs to be done and how, doesn’t mean we need call each other enemies. No one needs to vanquished.

I’m looking forward to reading Love Your Enemies because it’s more than a “this is what’s wrong with the world” kind of book. This one promises some ideas about how you and I can fix things for ourselves and I’m excited to hear his plans. I hope someone out there wants to read this along with me or has read it recently. I’d love to hear anyone thoughts!