For you to be right, do others have to be wrong? For you to be good, do others have to be evil?
Ask yourself this: "Is there a secret desire in me to be the one who is 'right' and to persecute those who don't agree with me and are therefore 'wrong'?"
This is one of the greatest diseases of the human spirit. It cost tens of millions of lives during the 20th century and it's all around us today in various forms. Several years ago I was visiting a church - I won't say which or what kind here - and the sermon left me horrified. I was told that people outside the church are selfish, egotistical, greedy, materialistic and unspiritual. "Oh," I thought, "I guess we don't know the same people, because most of the people I know outside are kind, thoughtful, caring and trying to do the right thing."
FASCISM is a perennial human temptation, a spiritual disease and not just a political ideology. People try to transform the groups they belong to into fascist communities, into exclusive groups that are "right" and are therefore justified to hate those who are "wrong". Political parties and religious groups are especially at risk. Today's Jihad-crazed sociopaths are simply the latest version.
What I've called "authentic ancient traditions" of spiritual life are immune to this, fortunately, and consider every single human person to be precious, no matter what their current beliefs or where their life is at. St. Isaac the Syrian (7th century) provides a wonderful description of this:
"Do not provoke anyone or argue with them, either for the sake of the faith or on account of their evil deeds, but watch over yourself to make sure you don't accuse anyone in any matter. If you would correct them, then say a word or two to them with tears and love. For love does not know how to be angry or provoked or to passionately reproach anyone. The proof of love and knowledge is profound humility."
One of the great hallmarks of resilience and emotional maturity is the refusal to treat the great mystery of life as black and white, but rather to acknowledge its complexity, its many shades of gray, to embrace its rich texture and everyone who shares it with you.
This, paradoxically, means the one thing you must not tolerate is the mentality of narrow-mindedness and hate. Ready to spit at it?
~Dr. Symeon Rodger