Seeing Beyond Superficial Differences

Michael McCullough from “Getting Revenge and Forgiveness,” a conversation with Krista Tippett, Speaking of Faith, March 25, 2010:

Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct “I think one of the best things we can do with religious faith is give people an appetite for difference. And the major world religions all have the resources for doing this, for getting people excited about people who are different from them.

It's not every brand, right, that exercises that prerogative, but in the scriptures and traditions of every world religion that has been successful on a grand scale, there is a story there about the love of difference.

Compassion toward difference. Caring for the strangers in your midst. Being able to see beyond superficial differences toward the essential commonalities.

Religion is also good at appealing to people's meaner sides and the more brutish side and the resources are there for both. So it's really up to those people who have a passion for reconciliation in their own faiths to make sure that the right tones are struck and the others are a little bit more muted.

…I wish we could come up with a completely new word for what this human trait is or maybe find some new way to talk about it so that we could unload a little bit of the baggage from the past, because some of the baggage is that it's sort of a namby-pamby thing that doormats do or wimps do.

You know, only sort of milquetoast types of people are interested in. But from everything I've managed to read and see and understand in my own work it's that forgiveness is a brawny muscular exercise that I kind of imagine someone with a great passion for life and a great hardy sort of disposition being able to take on.”