The United States of America is being torn by a civil war of clashing minds involving not only starkly differing ideas but also anger, contempt, and hatred. A war need not involve military force in order to be profoundly divisive and destructive.
The remedy I propose has implications for strengthening any social group. (See the podcast episode link at the bottom of this post.) It involves four virtues, the first of which is loyalty to one’s highest convictions of truth and righteousness. Sometimes we’re loyal to something less. But my axiom is that each person contend in a dispute is motivated in part to defend something of genuine value against a perceived threat. It is not necessary for anyone to dismantle all of his or her basic convictions in order to restore humane attitudes, civil conversation, and progressive cooperation.
The second virtue is fairness, which involves taking account of the various factors that enable us to understand why our opponents think, speak, and act as they do. Moira Hutchinson, a mediator decades ago in social, economic, and political disputes in Ontario, would convene a public discussion, ensuring that all stakeholder groups were represented. She would being her meetings by having individuals tell their stories of involvement in the dispute. Listening to others’ narratives gives empathy a chance and makes it possible to expand one’s own convictions of truth and righteousness. On that basis the group would go on to establish agreement about facts, and then to discuss ethical interpretations, and share spiritual and religious perspectives.
Fairness leads to tolerance—bearing or putting up with others as we all go through the stages of growth in this material life.
On the foundation of loyalty, fairness, and tolerance, love begins to emerge upon the horizon. I give thanks that a majority of the partisans in the currently raging political dispute cherish love as the ideal of divinely human relating. Sooner or later, we citizens of the United States country and this world will learn.