When we consider someone with contempt, we say that they are beneath our consideration. Engagement with them is not worth our time. They receive only our disgust.
And contempt is contagious; as two people pass it back and forth, it grows exponentially. This is even more true within an in-group, a cultural echo chamber, a tribe, until contempt kills any curiosity or engagement of the other. These days, particularly in political discussions, contempt for “those people” is on the rise.
Contempt kills our ability to communicate and work for the common good, and so interrupting the contagion of contempt is an act of courage. This courage begins by naming clearly what we fear and getting close enough to love.