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The toolbox of harmony

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Jerry Kruse

I like to watch TED Talks on YouTube. Recently, I watched one delivered in 2008 by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist who discussed the moral roots of liberals and conservatives. As we debate issues related to many human rights, and as increasingly absolute positions are taken, this topic is particularly relevant today.

Haidt made one main assertion, and it stuck with me. To make his point, he quoted Sengcan, “If you want the truth to stand before you, never be ‘for’ or ‘against.’ The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.”

Haidt’s research has determined that human minds are programmed to unite us into teams, to divide us against other teams, and, in order to maintain the team, to blind us to the truth. He postulated that the large societies that have been successful in overcoming division between groups are those that have put aside the absolute mindset of “for” or “against.” He noted that harmony was achieved in those instances only by using “every tool in the toolbox.”

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