Towards a Non-A**hole Society
“Just don’t be an a**hole.” Have you ever given or received this advice? If nothing else, you’ve surely heard it said. The meaning is clear: believe whatever you want, but don’t be an a**hole about it.
Say a mediator between two — at times icy — people is heading to an event with his devoutly Christian pal. At the event is another of the mediator’s friends: a devout atheist. The mediator nods and listens as his Christian buddy airs his logic about flaws in the atheist person’s thinking. In between rants, the mediator repeats with emphasis, “Just don’t be an a**hole.”
Note that the roles could have been switched. The mediator could have been taking his atheist friend to an event where the Christian friend was, all the while explaining his logic. The point the mediator was making is this: beliefs are incidental, how you treat others is crucial.
In a refreshing way, this succinct maxim is becoming the slogan of the younger generation. I’ve come across many people who admirably accept whatever someone else believes, meaning they are not hostile but open and friendly to them. On occasion I have asked about this faith-in-humanity-inspiring phenomenon. The answer is usually the same: “As long as they’re not an a**hole about it.”
Pointedly, and this is key for every Christian to hear (though I am going off my experience alone), I have seen those who are not Christian be more open, accepting and kind to Christians than vice versa. In other words, it is often the Christians who are the a**holes.
Christians do not typically hear “Don’t be an a**hole sermons,” though they could benefit from some. Perhaps the hedged advice they do get: to love their neighbor, treat them as they want to be treated, hate the sin but love the sinner, demands so much of them that they falter and flail in their attempts. Overwhelmed by the pressure to be the perfect Christian, they turn out bitter. Oh how I wish these Christians would embrace this one teaching: Don’t be an a**hole!
Now, not all Christians are “a**holes about it,” and not all non-Christians are patient and non-hostile towards their Christian peers. I have seen more tolerance, in the form of not being an a**hole, on the side of non-Christians than Christians, though.
So let’s formalize this slogan that seems, if applied, to fashion social settings into humble, co-existent habitats. Umm, how did it go again? Oh yeah: