Here’s what she said: “We live in a world where people just try to tolerate each other. Not that hard, either. And I want to say, ‘my god people, it’s just the planet Earth, and we’re all different, and we’re all here to accept each other’s differences. And that’s what makes us the planet Earth.’ ”
I admit, this really does hone in on one's aversion to strife, and the desire for harmony in diversity shared by most decent people. It's just that it's so hopelessly naive. It's like someone standing on a street corner in Compton with a megaphone saying, "Come on guys. Let's stop with all the drugs and gang-banging. How about we all just pursue education and legitimate employment!?"--or like the allied forces thinking a few floating billboards off the Normandy coast depicting the ways Jews have enriched western culture would be a sure way to avoid the carnage of D-Day.
The fatal flaw in Oprah's philosophy is her point that "we're all here to accept each other's differences." This is a nebulous idea whose influence grows in direct proportion to its level of abstraction. In other words, it's easy to believe until you try to apply it to something in the real world. Accepting others' differences sounds like just the thing we need, but the beliefs and behaviors we would need to accept are not just benign "differences." The idea that all we need to make the world right is an appreciation of diversity and an acceptance of differences only applies within a group of people who share the same basic beliefs. This is the problem at the root of what I like to call the myth of different opinions.
I am a Christian, and, ironically, Oprah's advice is very applicable among Christians. We are notorious for making illegitimate divisions and refusing to accept the differences of other Christians who share the same fundamental motives and beliefs. But what about a Christian and an atheist, or a Christian and an abortion "doctor," or a Christian and someone who sees the world like Chelsea Handler or Seth Rogen. It would be nonsense to ask a Christian to just accept the differences; they are not differences in degree but in kind--that is, the differences aren't just different points of view held by people in the same boat, but views held by those on altogether different boats.
The problem with Oprah's let's-just-get-along philosophy is that it is blind to the reality of different boats, and to the vulnerability of sinking.
Christians can't accept or appreciate the idea that God doesn't exist, or that women should have the right to kill their own babies, or that human sexuality is only a quirky animal function, because these ideas are not just different opinions held by people who hold the same basic beliefs about the centrality of God and the spiritual nature of human beings. These ideas are not just different; they are evil.
I realize that that four-letter word will evoke some eye rolling from those who think a well educated, 21st-century person should be above unsophisticated, superstitious notions like good and evil, God and the Devil, demons and angels. I understand this, but reality requires one to be unsophisticated at times. Besides, even if a belief in these things diminishes my intellectual status, at least I'm in good company with other unintelligent bumpkins like The Apostle Paul, Thomas Aquinas, and Isaac Newton.
The picture of the world given consistently throughout the Bible is that of a battleground in a cosmic conflict. We live in the context of a war--and not just against other people who disagree with us, but "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms," which is why we're told to "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." (Eph. 6:11-12)
As I once heard a wise teacher say, when Jesus said to Pilate, "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me," this necessarily means that there are sides.
This being the case, the world will be made right not by the acceptance of evil beliefs and behaviors, and most definitely not by pretending there's no difference between evil and good, but by conquering evil with good. Christians, of course, are mandated to conquer through love, but there is no option of accepting evil instead of conquering it.