Sunday, November 13, 2022

"The better angels of our nature"

From "How to have political disagreements without ruining relationships," advice I would do well to remember, and applicable to more than politics:
If you've lost a friend or a loved one to political disagreements, you're not alone. A 2021 study by the American Enterprise Institute showed that a full 15% of adults have ended a friendship over politics. ....

The soldier has one goal: to win the battle, protect their side, and defeat the enemy. The soldier isn't interested in shades of gray or in finding common ground; he's interested in winning. Given our tribal roots, the soldier mindset is highly adaptive. When you're at war with a rival tribe, letting down your sword to mull over how your opponents might actually have a point is a good way to get killed.

The scout, however, has a different goal: to understand. She wants to find the truth, because getting an accurate picture of the situation—whether it’s the terrain, the location and numbers of the enemy, or the weather—is essential to helping her side succeed. The scout approaches the problems of the world dispassionately, like a researcher, unblinkered by ideological biases or motivated reasoning.

You may be thinking that times are tough, the stakes are high, and the soldier is what is needed right now. But, in the words of Abraham Lincoln during perhaps the greatest period of strife in our nation’s history, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” If Lincoln can think that during the Civil War, we can certainly think it now. ....

When you act as a scout, you can shift the discussion away from the supposed moral deficiencies of your opponent and toward a disagreement on implementation. It helps you avoid overly simplistic framings and helps you find common ground. This framework is far more constructive and conducive to relationship-building and conflict resolution than the soldier approach, and it is needed now more than ever. ....
Julian Adorney, "How to have political disagreements without ruining relationships," Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR), Nov. 7, 2022.

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