The One Great Lesson about People Who Will Never Like You

I noticed the following quote in Doug Wilson’s recent Top 10 Observations about Sarah Palin:

“She clearly does not care at all that the people who will never like her don’t like her. This is the essential lesson that fully 95% of all modern conservatives of all stripes — political, theological, social, whatever — never learn.”

The time people spend trying to get those of categorically different ideologies to like them is the most futile of endeavors we human beings will go through in our lives. A writer I know once said of Ted Haggard, who was shocked that the media he thought he had built a rapport with in his days as an evangelical pastor turned on him when his gay prostitute visits became public knowledge, that Ted never realized “rapport” meant “sit there and be still while we bash your teeth in with a baseball bat.” I sit and watch conservative friends of mine obsess with developing alliances with groups of people whose own agendas, ideologies, and objectives are fundamentally different than their own, and then they cry in their beer when these “allies” rip their hearts out. It would be sad if it were not so pathetic.

I prefer to not even touch this theme theologically, but suffice it to say, Pastor Wilson is spot on. I recall my old pastor, Jim Belcher, telling me the story of Tim Keller at a PCA Presbytery meeting calling out his so-called “TR” critics, commenting that if “we affirmed we agreed with 70%, or 80%, or 90%, or 99%, or even 100% of what you want us to agree with, it would still not be good enough for you people.” Pastor Keller’s willingness to operate without the naivete that these critics were ever going to be salvageable is a big reason for the impact and success his ministry has had.

It is human nature to care what other people think. It is not always good strategy. The great example in my own ideological endeavors has been my willingness to recognize the sheer antithesis that exists between the radical isolationists of the America-hating, Israel-hating, philosophically-challenged Libertarian silo of American politics, and those who value this great Republic, who believe in defending her, and who have taken the time to understand what a limited government in America can and will look like. The former and the latter overlap in some issues in such a way that a desire for mutual compatibility appears forgivable. But there is no compatibility. And there never was.

I am fond of quoting Lord Acton who said:

“At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous.”

Disastrous associations are an avoidable phenomena. And perhaps the best way to avoid them is to put into practice what Sarah Palin has largely understood herself so well already: These people who hate you are never going to do anything but hate you. Suck up to them at your own peril.