“When I was a teenager I wished for world peace, but now I yearn for a world in which competing ideologies are kept in balance, systems of accountability keep us all from getting away with too much, and few people believe that righteous ends justify violent means. Not a very romantic wish, but one that we might actually achieve.” –Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion, p. xx
Maybe a good place to start to achieve Haidt’s wish is to start with our own relationships—with our partners, our children, our friends, our co-workers and our bosses. How can we create peace at home, at work, and in our other relationships? Especially with people we don’t agree with? Most of us were raised in homes where our parents defined what was “true,” both by what they said and also by what they did. We were not raised in homes where different members could have different “truths” that were supported and respected. The answer to the question “Why is it that way?” was “Because I said so.” The idea that one person’s perceptions, needs, feelings, or experience of reality might be different from someone else’s was simply not tolerated.
But we are all individuals. There are multiple types of intelligence, and none of us has all of them. In a few areas, we recognize this. Sports is one example. There are great athletes that play basketball or baseball or football or track or golf or diving who are only average (or worse) at the other sports. Even within a single sport, such as football, there is a recognition that winning requires the cooperation and skills of the offense, the defense and special teams. And further, not everyone can be the quarterback or part of the offensive line or a running back. We respect that a person who has developed the skills to excel in one position will have a mind set to go with that, and that mind set will not work for other positions or other sports.
So why would we expect that everyone we have relationships with would think the same way we do? And what are we doing to develop cooperation tools to have healthy relationships with those who think differently than we do? Who is a person in your life that sees things another way than you do? How good is your relationship with them?