Arthur Brooks told a crowd of nearly 800 legislative, business and community leaders Tuesday at the Chamber Day Dinner that each and every one of them has the power to help solve the problem of division within our country. He gave out three assignments:

  1. Refuse to be used (by the 7% who are becoming rich and powerful because of conflict)
  2. Go out and find contempt and see it as an opportunity. “Run toward the fire; be a missionary for warmheartedness (a lesson imparted by no less than the Dalai Lama)
  3. Practice gratitude. “People can’t hate you when you say thank you and mean it. We have so much to be grateful for. There is so much for us to love. We are a gift to the world as Indiana is a gift to America.”

Brooks is departing later this year as president of the American Enterprise Institute, returning to the academic world at Harvard. He released his 12th book on Tuesday with the appropriate title, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From the Culture of Contempt.

The man who dropped out of college to enjoy a 12-year classical music career recalls that he noticed even before the 2016 election that leaders were espousing the point that “it’s OK to hate our neighbors.” An early message from his father convinced him that had to change.

“My father said the mark of moral courage is not to stand up to those you disagree with, but to stand up with people with whom you agree on behalf of those who disagree.”

Since 2016, Brooks relays that the data show one in six people have stopped talking to someone because of politics. While 93% are “tired of how divided we’ve become, 7% are profiting from the disdain.”

Civility and tolerance are not lofty enough ambitions, according to Brooks. “The goal is to fight contempt. We have to put something else in its place.”

That “something” is kindness, or in the words of the Dalai Lama – warmheartedness.

“Make more friends who disagree with you,” Brooks advises. Follow the guidance of the world’s leading marriage counselor, who requires spouses to “have to say five loving things first if you want to criticize. Do your own 5-to-1 rule. By the time you get through the five (nice things), you won’t get to the one (criticism).”

The leading event of the legislative session returns to the Indiana Roof Ballroom on February 11, 2020.

Ice Miller LLP was the presenting sponsor for 2019. The reception sponsor was Caesars Entertainment.

Gold sponsors: Keystone Group & Indy Eleven, NIPSCO, Ruoff Home Mortgage, St. Vincent, Strada Education Network and Thompson Thrift.

Silver sponsors:  American Chemistry Council, AT&T Indiana, Delta Dental of Indiana, First Merchants Corporation, French Lick Resort, Hoosiers Work for Health, IGT Indiana, The Kroger Co., Old National Bank, Roche Diagnostics Corporation, Rolls-Royce, Smithville and Vectren.