“I attack ideas. I don’t attack people. Some very good people have some very bad ideas”
-Chief Justice Antonin Scalia
One of the things that I loved learning about Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is that she and Chief Justice Antonin Scalia were the best of friends. Despite having very different interpretations of the written word they were aligned on their reverence for the court and its place in the U.S. government. She quoted him as saying: “I attack ideas. I don’t attack people. Some very good people have some very bad ideas.” I love that and it makes me chuckle! I think that we would be served to adopt this right now as we head into one of the most contentious political elections ever in this country.
It is, up to you, to find a way through this. How can you disagree with someone and their ideas without attacking the person who holds those ideas that might be different from your own? I learned this when I was a student in England 30 years ago. I would have heated debates with other students and think “they are disagreeing with me and therefore, don’t like me.” Not at all the case. They were disagreeing with my point-of-view or my argument but that had nothing to do with how they felt about me, personally. They could still like me, as a person, and disagree with my point-of-view.
Herein may lie how we can navigate these polarizing times. You get to choose how to engage with the people around you who think differently than you. The key to our humanity might be found in our ability to disagree with their argument or position without attacking the person who holds that viewpoint. Yet, each of us needs to find this balance for ourself. It is, in fact, up to you.