An interesting TED talk...

I watched an interesting TED talk this week. It was on the fundamental moral differences between Liberal and Conservative mindsets. The presenter used the psychology of morality to justify why people on both sides of the isle always think their position to be infallible, or their beliefs unquestionable. Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed, want change and justice even at the risk or chaos. Conservatives speak for institutions and tradition, and want order even at the cost of those at the bottom.

Unfortunately, the stereotypes are quite reliable. It turns out that Liberals usually score much higher on a personality trait called openness to experience. According to McCrae (1996): “Open individuals have an affinity for liberal, progressive, left-wing political views, whereas closed individuals prefer conservative, traditional right wing views.”

Now, this is an interesting thought. If our moral views are predicted and defined by personality traits, which are not an acquired, but rather innate for each individual, perhaps it is not all based on the environment or conditional circumstances of someone’s birth, and we do have a “first draft” of our moral mind upon our entrance to the world.

I think that if we understand the differences between Liberals and Conservatives as a foundationally moral trait of the human condition, perhaps we can start to view each other in the same way that we see other personality traits. We do not discount others for being introverted or extraverted, but suddenly when we identify people as being part of a particular political party, friendships can be stressed, debates can be heated, and suddenly (like in the case of Congress)  communication and cooperation break down.

I feel compelled by this argument, and I do think it is accurate when saying that in order to put aside differences and bickering in our country; we should look to the different side of the isle not as ignorant, chaotic, or zealous, but as different valuable types of people who are genetically programed to value things differently than we do, we can begin to understand the commonalities between our differences and begin to work together much more cohesively. I think of liberals and conservatives as different sides of the same coin, who, when in discord or out of balance, aren’t worth anything - but together are worth everything. Just a thought…

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