The Transylvania Times -

Politics And Passion


November 18, 2019

Politics may be a science, but that is only half of it. The other half is passion. A political idea must have passion behind it in order to move it. Passion is where the art of politics enters the picture. Political rhetoric is the art of evoking emotions, which move us to act. The problem comes when passions are inflamed through political rhetoric. When this happens, we become irrational and, in many cases, violent.

Unfortunately, we cannot argue against passions or refute them by rational means. Passions are typically held in check by our moral values, not by our political laws, statutes, institutions or constitutions, bills of right or political charters. But even our moral values sometimes fail us when violent passions, such as hate, are inflamed through political rhetoric.

We have seen throughout history how easy it is for tyrants and dictators to throw political institutions and morals aside and disregard them. We all know how easy it is to manipulate the emotions, particularly fear, which gives rise to hatred. Franklin D. Roosevelt said that the greatest threat to our democracy is fear. Roosevelt was not referring to normal, healthy fear but irrational fear such as racism.

“We hate what we fear and we fear what we hate.” These words from Martin Luther King Jr. remind us that fear lies at the bottom of all hatred.

Passions are not liberal or conservative or moderate. They are not Democratic or Republican or Independent. They can infect all of us no matter what party we identify with or what creed we confess. Hatred driven by fear has polarized our politics, our nation and our hearts. Hate serves no political party or person. As a friend once told me, “Hate is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.”

We will never remove passion from our politics or from our personal lives, but we can transform our passions into compassion. Compassion means, literally “suffering with.” The Greeks called it “agape” love. Agape love is not warm fuzzy feelings; it arises from the deep awareness that we are all one. What we do unto the other is, in effect, what we do unto ourselves.

Ernie Mills



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