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Arthur Brooks - Replace Contempt with Kindness

There is much truth to this. I've noticed that regardless of which side people are on, we treat the other side with contempt, dehuminizing them: libtard, snowflake, nazi, facist.

What's worse is when we justify your contempt... they deserve it, the allegations prove it, it's common sense... or when we let our emotions control our contempt... damn him, screw that, fuck you.

I've always thought that the gretests show of strength is to be kind when faced with unkindness, to be forgiving when shown unforgiveness, to be cool when things get hot

Do you think we can do this, each of us, or are we too addicted to that little thrill of righteousness that contempt gives us to follow through?

TheMiddleWay 8 Jan 28

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The Christian 'turn the other cheek' is an invitation to get a broken jaw in some situations. My philosophy, previously stated here, is simple and is derived from The Art of Warfare by Sun Tzu. Always do more of the same unto others as they have done unto you. If we all behaved that way we would do nothing but nice things for one another, right?

As I read it in order to unbalance our opponent:

  1. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

This would seem to imply that when given insult, we must respond with kindness


All the more reason: if you instinct is to give insult, give kindness to deceive your opponent. As you say, honesty makes for predictabiliyt as in this case, your opponent will know when they've "pushed your buttons" by virtue of you giving insult


Killing them with kindness, so they aren't your enemy again.


The art of war has been applied to many different endeavors, from business to relationships.

"It’s been a while since The Art Of War by Sun Tzu was written, but the wisdom found inside are still truths today that you can apply to all aspects of life.
For instance, if you want to improve your relationships and stop the conflict in them, The Art Of War can help you, and we will talk about how some of his strategic rules can do that in this article. "



I can't agree with this. Generally speaking, how I treat people is a reaction to how they treat me or how they are in general. If they're kind, I treat them likewise. If they're contemptible, I treat them as such (which doesn't necessarily mean I hurl insults at them). Essentially, I go by the Golden Rule. Treating all with kindness no matter what is akin to looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.

But the golden rule is not treat others as they treat you, it's treat others as you'd want to be treated yourself. As such, when someone insults you, you don't insult them back because then they will insult you back and you will insult them back and so on in a never ending positive feedback loop. The only way to break the loop is to "be the bigger man" and meat insults with compliments.

This is such an interesting discussion thread. Thanks for all the contributions.

I have just started experiencing the true freedom that comes from replacing contempt with kindness. In my experience, giving kindness is less about it being because the other person deserves it, and more about not allowing anything external to prompt the poison of anger or unkindness.

I found the path through secular buddhist teachers like Jack Kornfield. I could ramble forever but it might not fit an agnostic message board. I don't find buddhism religious - just a philosophy for living. But others might.

@Lydiaeli Anything external? So you consider the other person to be external as to whether or not you give kindness to that person?

@TheMiddleWay Let me be clear in that I use it as a guiding principle, not an absolutism. You seem to be hung up on insults being the only way to show contempt or disrespect.


I just used that as one example. What are other ways to show contempt or disrespect?


I'm constantly amazed at what a positive effect buddhism has on people. By and large, those that read it and accept it are more generous and kinder than those that don't.

As well, it's secular nature makes it so both theist and atheist alike can embrace it's ideology without sacrificing their beliefs.

@bingst Yes - that is what I am saying. I live in Charlottesville, Virginia and the nazi who chatted me up at the park on August 12th -- I told him to have a beautiful day. Nothing I say will change him, except maybe love. For two reasons: One, honestly: He wanted hate from me. Not giving him the satisfactions. Two: Contempt only poisons me. No other benefit.


If only more Xians were like him.


Um, but what if they really are fascists and/or Nazis? Those are not just subjective insults. They have objective meanings that tell you about that person's values and what they would do with political power. Some of those people even admit to being Nazis. This is a real danger to both democracy and to personal safety.

Nazis were bussed in from all across the country to protest in Charlottesville, they had about 1000 people. If our population is 350,000,000 then 0.0000028% of the population are actual Nazis. I doubt they pose a threat to democracy.

"Those are not just subjective insults. "

99.9% of the time they are. If they admit they are Nazi's, then it's objective to call them Nazi. If they endorse facism, then they are facists.

Otherwise, when you call someone a Nazi or Facist, 99% of the time you are hyperbolizing and dehumanizing to make it easier to hate them and to get others to hate them in kind.

@TheInterloper that didnt stop them from killing someone,and they have their preferred candidate in the White House, they have been successful in recruiting more people, and murders by these groups spiked in 2017. The Germans thought it couldn't happen to them either, although there were a few who tried to warn other Germans of what was coming. They learned too late.


One thing I have noticed is our government demonstrates first-strike and might is right, while society tries to teach its citizens to use constructive conflict and emotional maturity when dealing with problems. This paradox feeds the difference between left and right. We can do as Arthur Brooks and others have tried, to appeal to the masses, but as long as our government refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of such humaneness, fairness, and maturity as American beliefs, I fear the confusion will continue to separate the two. How can we reconcile these differences?


I wish more people believed as such. Although I'm may seem snarky on occasion, I'm mostly just being a smart ass and honestly mean no harm. I am sarcastic, but would never wish to cause anyone pain and I do live by that rule, personally. I never seek vengeance and always forgive to the point that my loved ones ridicule me, claiming I am walked in the and/or taken advantage of but I do not see it as such. I would rather be kind and not receive it in return. Forgive and have no thought of whether I shall receive the same treatment. What my loved ones do not understand is that it isn't about fairness or mistreatment, for me. For me, it's about myself... Me being the person I am most proud to be, to let go of Anger or bitterness through forgiveness so that it may serve to free me from the bondages of a person or a situation.

I would like to believe I am not so damaged, so bitter, so stoic and removed from logic that I could no longer be above contempt.

Sadoi Level 7 Jan 28, 2018

I sincerely try to be kind at all times, which is why I end up being quiet, when irritated.


I don't attack people unless they attack me, and even on the rare occasions that I do so I try to be tactful about it and attack a flaw in their argument. Although there are rare occasions when I have told someone to straight up go fuck themselves. I reserve that for obvious trolls or people who can't show any respect at all.

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