Fight ideas. Fight them with passion. But fight people with gentleness and mercy because we're all made of the same water and blood and flesh and bone, and ultimately we still need each other.
This holds true, I believe, even, and perhaps especially, to those of us who think we don't need anyone and those who think there are those among us we can do without (particularly from among their opponents). It's important to remember what John Donne taught us: that if even a grain of sand is washed away from the beach, the country is the lesser for the missing grain.
When we adopt violence or hatred ourselves, we only become part of the problem. Being strong in the face of an enemy is effective. But spewing back hate is not.
Gentleness and mercy don't necessarily mean being peaceful. You can embrace gentleness and mercy even during a battle. It's an attitude you bring into the fight with you. It's the opposite of writing hateful slogans back again the people who hate you. It's the nature of not making the fight personal of not vilifying the enemy.
Peace wouldn't have stopped the Nazis. But neither did American soldiers have to embrace the "Kill the nasty Krauts" mentality to fight them.
Peace won't stop those who endorse terror. But neither do we have to embrace the cultural attitude to hate the terrorists.
It is enough to have to fight them. It is enough to have to resort to killing them in some cases to stop them. But there's no reason to hate them too.
It gets down to the reason we fight. Changing things because it is right to do so, not changing things because you hate those idiots who oppose you and your truth.
Becoming like the enemy always lessens us and our position. It never makes us better.
When I err, granted, I err to the side of the turn the other cheek, civil disobedience, Ghandi-Martin Luther King Jr. side of fighting. I will always promote patient, slow, steady change over violent, expedient upheaval.
I think too many people on both sides of most cultural arguments nowadays would prefer a Russian Revolution (1905)/French Revolution approach, come what may, as long as they get they way, rights, political power, cultural control, etc.
I indict all beliefs and lifestyles in that, Christians, Muslims, Gays, Anti-Gays, Pro-Lifers, Pro-Choicers, you name it.
What saddens me is that for the most part among those I've known in these groups, WHEN they feel that way (and most don't feel that way, but sadly, some do), they have little regard for the people involved on the other side. They become mere straw men that are little more than symbols for "What we fight against."
As a Christian I have a mandate to pursue truth, but also to love people and follow the example of Christ. This is the ONLY way I can figure out how to do both.