To the Editor:
Conservative or liberal. In today’s world most are affiliated with one side or the other. The divide has become so strong that the other side is viewed as the enemy. It isn’t that the other side may have viable attributes, the other side is viewed as absolutely wrong and one’s own as absolutely right. Both sides have attributes that are honorable, but in today’s world, too many are so focused on their own perspective, that they are blind to the mere possibility of the other side having anything noteworthy. It would be healthy if both would start to listen to what the other side has to say. Listening is a good place to start in closing the divide between the two.
According to Jonathan Haidt, an American social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University, people take their positions based on emotions, not intellect. He calls it the psychology of Self-Righteousness. He says conservatives possess five values: loyalty, authority, sanctity, compassion and fairness. The last two are what liberals focus on. The first three are problems for liberals. Conservatives would prefer things moving in a very orderly manner. No surprises. For example: The military is a highly structured entity with no ambiguities. The military is to a large degree, very conservative. A strong and decisive leader would be preferred. Liberals on the other hand would view this person as oppressive. A man legitimizing discrimination towards a number of different groups. Liberals would prefer some surprises, more freedom of movement.
“We think we are scientists discovering the truth, but actually we are lawyers arguing for positions we arrived at by other means," Haidt says.
We need to start listening to each other.