Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg held vividly different legal positions, often clashing sharply over issues. Yet apparently they truly enjoyed each other’s company. During a 2008 interview (aired on 60 Minutes shortly after Scalia’s 2016 death) Scalia was asked how the two of them managed to stay good friends. His answer should guide us all:
Disagreements aren’t personal….I don’t attack people; I attack ideas … and some very good people have some very bad ideas.
Scalia saw behind Ginsberg’s ideas to Ginsberg the person. He didn’t confuse her with her views, and, because of his discernment, knew how to disagree without losing sight of the person with whom he disagreed. His response reminds me of the time God guided Samuel to pass over David’s brothers and instead choose David as Israel’s king:
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected (the brothers); for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
God saw beyond outward appearances to the heart … and honored David’s heart. Scalia saw behind outward disagreement to Ginsberg’s heart .. and honored her heart. They could disagree agreeably. Would that we all would learn this wise skill. How profoundly our relationships would change if we stopped letting someone’s “surface” blind us to their value.
Disagree Agreeably (Antonin Scalia)
© Lynne Fox, 2016