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One Big Thing: What can Americans learn from Senator John McCain’s legacy of civility?
by We Hold These Truths
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  • Jacque
    09/01/2020

    The folksy poet Edwin Markham wrote an ambiguous little piece that handles both possibilities open to those confronting disagreement in a social setting. "He drew a circle that shut me out, / Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. / But Love and I had the wit to win: / We drew a circle that took him in." The intended meaning is clear enough: If one stands within a circle with love, one's goal should be to bring as many as possible into that circle, too. Of course, we are surrounded these days by haters. Standing outside Love's circle, they proceed to demonize those with whom they disagree by drawing conspiratorial circles that take them in. As Ian points out, the Trumpers have a problem unrelated to intelligence. They are afraid to come into close contact with those with whom they disagree. Having abandoned hope of mutually beneficial reconciliation of differences, they have abandoned civility. Anyone acquainted with children knows how obdurate they can be, but they can be very clever, too. The challenge we face today is maintaining a mature decorum and pursuing inclusive goals, declining to demonize the Trumpers, no matter how immature and self-defeating their behavior may be. With experience, they may come to see the merits of inclusive, rather than exclusive, circles. Love is ultimately irresistible, and they will eventually be drawn to enter the circle they drew to demonize their opponents.

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