In Falling Upward, Richard Rohr says something that I am just now realizing has deep significance to me. “We all become well-disguised mirror image of anything that we fight too long or too directly. That which we oppose determines the energy and frames the questions after a while. Most frontal attacks on evil just produce another kind of evil in yourself, along with a very inflated self-image to boot.”
When I first read this, it seemed that Rohr wants us to be passive. A call to stop all the fighting. It could be read as a “both-sides-ism” or a call to “just get along.” Some people assume that when I say Love Matters More, that I am doing the same. That what I am saying is that love is about not standing up for our beliefs. That “getting along” is more important. But that’s not it.
Love is much harder than that. What I am saying, and how I read Rohr, is that I have a lot of fight left in me – but my tactics have changed. For me, “standing up for my beliefs” became defined by what I was against. To use Rohr’s phrase, I lived by “frontal attacks on evil.”
For me, fighting evil is no longer getting into debates with people who disagree with me. It’s not making sure people know that I’m on the “right side of history.” For me, fighting evil is about retreating from the front lines of hate and disagreement and heading upstream to work on the front lines of helping create solutions.
When I surround myself with other creative problem-solvers, when I work shoulder-to-shoulder on positive initiatives, then I find that my energy is positive and I don’t have the time or energy to worry too much about those who disagree with me. I guess what I’m saying is – there’s plenty of work to do and I want to do better at getting to work instead of exhausting myself every day trying to convince people online who won’t be convinced. There’s a world waiting for hope, love, justice, kindness – both in our personal interactions and enacted through our policies – and I want to make sure that at the end of the day I can say that I put my hand to the plow toward those things in very practical ways. If I’m going to be exhausted, I want it to be because I put in the practical work of outsmarting evil – not being distracted by its temptation for frontal attacks.
I am not interested in attacking but creating. I am not interested in telling others why their vision for the world won’t work but in doing the harder, painstaking, tedious work of building toward mine.