I love Comic Con … not (just) because I love comics, but because I love the people who love them.

In a recent essay, our summer fellow Grace explored the generational shift from tolerance to inclusion, which was on parade at the LA Comic Con we attended last month. Appropo to her name, for inclusion to be authentically inclusive, grace is required. And for grace to be authentic, it cannot be cheap.

A dear friend reminded me after reading our essay that the goal of holistic human relationships is love, and not just love for your friends and family … costly grace is love:

But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hurt you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  – Luke 6:27

The juxtaposition of being at Comic Con in LA, which embodied inclusion, a day after the horrific shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh and the mailing of pipe bombs to high-profile public officials and media outlets was a stark reminder that how we respond to our differences can lead us to very different destinations.

There are deep socio-economic shifts which are contributing to polarized conflict in our culture, but certainly political rhetoric and practices not only reflect but exacerbate it. I’ve worked at the highest levels of political hardball, and loving your enemy is not considered a viable campaign strategy. However, the response to a musical collaboration between political opponents in Vermont suggests there is pent up demand for civility in politics, which can allow political losers to still be winners:

I know it is naive to expect political opponents to make beautiful music together, but I would gladly settle for civility and inclusion over current caustic conflict and tribal polarization. Comic Con is a word picture of inclusivity, but what about loving your enemy?  

We were in Clarkston, GA last month to visit the most diverse square mile in America, and was reminded that many of the refugees living there had fled their countries because of persecution, often for their religious beliefs. Our documentary is in principal photography, but one story of “loving your enemy” that went viral from another producer dramatically illustrates how to love your enemy:

Former KKK Member & Syrian Muslim Refugee: An Inspiring Friendship

“We are so divided now in this country that we’ve forgot what makes us strong is really reaching out to the other side.” This unlikely and extraordinary friendship between a former member of the KKK and a Syrian refugee who both live in Georgia proves that hate is often times just a cry for help.

Posted by More In Common Show on Saturday, August 4, 2018

 

A recent study https://www.moreincommon.com/publications/ by Common Cause called https://hiddentribes.us/ found that most Americans are tired of the “us-versus-them” mindset and are eager to find common ground. Their survey on polarization, with more than than 8,000 participants, found that although Americans hold dissimilar views on many issues, more than three-quarters of us also believe that our differences aren’t so great that we can’t work together.

The desire to find a way to work together despite differences was embodied in the recent Bravo series, “Welcome to Waverly,” about a diverse group of urban progressive hipsters moving to a rural community in Kansas for a few weeks. Rather than conflict, they found common cause and a shared humanity which has been elusive in our contemporary public discourse:

 

Even though going to Comic Con for our new publishing venture might raise some eyebrows, it reminded me that we won’t have to keep loving “enemies” when we realize that they can become our friends. We each choose the destination our country is heading through the daily choices we make, including how we vote and the conduct of the candidates we vote for. Some of our choices will be costly, but ultimately we will gain more than we will lose if we are willing to chose to love.