Can we disagree without being disagreeable? Ellen DeGeneres and former President George W. Bush sat next to one another at the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers football game over the weekend. As the two were seen talking and laughing, some people were outraged. How could someone like DeGeneres be friendly to someone so different from her?
DeGeneres responded to the Twitter hate during her show this week, explaining that she was invited to sit in the box by a friend. “During the game, they showed a shot of George and me laughing together and people were upset. They thought, why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?”
She went on to say that the two are actually friends. “Here’s the thing—I’m friends with George Bush and I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different. … But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them. When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”
Her response went viral. Some persisted in their outrage, but many expressed their agreement with DeGeneres. Patrick Madrid praised the Hollywood star for her “classy” response, saying:
“She’s right, obviously. … What does Saint Paul say? Saint Paul says, ‘Test all things. Hold fast to that which is good.” And that’s good because she’s making a point that needs to be made over and over again—just dial down the anger, everybody. Dial down the hair trigger tendency to attack, even if it’s just snarky attacks; we don’t need that. We can all get along, as the saying goes, and we can all have differences of opinion. I certainly have differences of opinion with Ellen DeGeneres, but she’s making a good point.”
Msgr. Stuart Swetland, host of Go Ask Your FatherTM, also weighed in on the topic, explaining that Jesus called people of all different backgrounds and political views to form the Catholic Church.
“True friendship and true kindness should be there even when there are great disagreements. Think how Jesus brought together a group of men who in any other setting would have been at war with each other. For example, Matthew, a tax collector—which means he a collaborator with the Roman Empire. And we also had Jude from the Zealot Party. The Zealot Party was killing tax collectors … they were open to killing anybody who were collaborators, in their opinion, with the Roman Empire. You had people from the extreme opposites of the political spectrum of his day and age who were among his most intimate disciples.”
Even after Jesus brought these men together for the same mission, they didn’t always get along. “Paul and Barnabas, some of the early successors of the Apostles … got so angry and disagreed so vehemently about the role that John Mark should play in the second missionary journey of Paul, that Barnabas ended up not going with them. They got angry enough that they separated. … Even early on, there was real disagreements about how to do what needed to be done,” explained Msgr. Swetland.
Jesus instructed us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He didn’t tell us to only love fellow Christians, the ones with the same political and moral beliefs, or only our own family. We are to love everyone—sinners and saints alike. Let’s look to our Lord’s example for pure and authentic love and kindness, and pray that we are given the grace to be his light in the world.
Here’s what Ellen DeGeneres had to say: