DBU Hosts National Political Analyst Arthur C. Brooks

A man is standing at a podium speaking.

Recently DBU had the privilege to host on campus Arthur C. Brooks, a nationally known social scientist whose political commentary can be found in the New York Times and through his best-selling books, including his most recent work, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt.

During his talk with the student body and also a special time with the DBU faculty and staff, Brooks encouraged individuals to live a life marked by kindness, avoiding mean-spirited political debates.

“We have people full of contempt on the television, on the internet, in politics, on college campuses, every place you look,” Dr. Brooks stated. “People say ‘If you disagree with me, you’re on the other side, and you’re not worth listening to.’ And that is the main problem we face, because that makes permanent enemies. It’s very impractical. Nobody in history has ever been insulted into agreement.”

Instead, a better form of engagement, according to Dr. Brooks, is to work to love ideological and political opponents. In so doing, one can create out of a potential enemy a lasting friend and perhaps even work to change their mind.

Dr. Brooks likened the situation to marriages that are on the brink of collapse. In talking with a friend who is a marriage counselor, Dr. Brooks asked why couples so in love at one point often became such bitter enemies later. The key in marriage, and for Brooks politics as well, is to not only claim to love the other but to actually be in the habit of showing that love.

“We really need to talk more about love in politics,” Dr. Brooks explained. “We have these garbage standards of trying to get civility and tolerance. If you told me that you and your wife were civil with each other, I’d say you need counseling. You need something stronger and better, and that’s love. That’s why a marriage counselor might just bring America back together. It’s almost always not a lack of love; it’s bad habits of communication.”

Through his writing of 11 books and multiple columns, as well as his work as president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a public policy think-tank in Washington, D.C., Dr. Brooks is seeking to change the national debate to a dialogue characterized not by toleration or total agreement but by love for one another.

This summer, Dr. Brooks will be transitioning to a joint where he will go back to the classroom as the Professor in the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School. Prior to his work with AEI, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Affairs at Syracuse University, teaching economic and entrepreneurship.

Written by Dr. Blake Killingsworth

Dr. Blake Killingsworth is the Vice President for Communications at Dallas Baptist University.