We deepen division and obliterate even the possibility of relationship when we define those with whom we disagree according to the most extreme proponents and positions of their convictions. What if we stopped awfulizing religions (or lack thereof), political parties and perspectives, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, nationalities, etc. that are unlike our own, and instead gave those who are different than us, or who hold attitudes and opinions contrary to ours, the same empathetic hearing we desire for ourselves?
“We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.”
– Martin Luther’s explanation of the 8th Commandment in The Small Catechism.