Sunday, July 11, 2021


David French has, as usual, an interesting essay today. It is about the importance — especially for men — of friendship. From "Lost Friendships Break Hearts and Nations":
.... Damon [Linker} argues (and I think he’s exactly right) that the prevalence of online relationships rooted in affinity or faction help explain our toxic politics. “A nation of increasingly lonely, friendless citizens given outlets to find collective, communal fulfillment online,” Damon writes, “will be a nation spawning a range of radical political factions, groups, or movements defined by and drawing the bulk of their cohesion from their loathing of other factions, groups, or movements.”

Faction friendships are especially dangerous, I’d add, because they not only provide community, they also provide a sense of purpose, as destructive or as false as it may be. But faction friendships are also fragile. They depend on an extraordinary degree of agreement and conformity. I’ve experienced this myself. Many of us have. Friendships built up through years of engagement in politics and activism vanished in the blink of a tweet.

“You’re not with us? Then we’re not with you.”

And unless you have robust family relationships and deep friendships that aren’t so fragile and aren’t so contingent...then the sense of loss can be emotionally and spiritually catastrophic. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a thousand times more. This is a prime reason why you can’t fact-check, plead, or argue a person out of a conspiracy, because you’re trying to fact-check, plead, and argue them out of their community. ....

Not long ago, I was at a gathering of Christian leaders that was discussing a national strategy for engaging the culture. We went through five-point plans. We discussed ten-point plans. The discussion was fascinating and valuable. My mind was racing with ideas. Then one pastor spoke up with an idea at once more simple and more difficult. “What if our strategy,” he said, “was the fruits of the spirit?”

That’s it. That’s the focus. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” That’s how we engage. And it made my mind jump tracks entirely, from the political to the personal. How do we repair our politics? The answer is almost impossibly complex, but here’s a powerful start. Friendship. Cultivate and sustain genuine friendship. Why? Because friendships don’t just enrich and restore our lives, they also enrich and restore our land.
David French, "Lost Friendships Break Hearts and Nations", The Dispatch, July 11, 2021.

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