To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Observercast

Common Ground

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BY SHARON MARTIN

Sharon MartinIf you consider yourself to be a strong conservative, no matter how logical I think my progressive arguments are, I probably can’t change your mind. As Jonathan Swift said, “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”

This isn’t sarcasm; it’s science. It appears that we are hardwired to be what we are politically.

Here’s a multiple-choice question that might determine which side you’re on:

We must resolve the immigration crisis at the border because

  1. it is our moral duty to welcome refugees.
  2. it is our moral duty to protect our citizens from diseases that outsiders bring in.

People who identify as liberals tend to be sympathetic to all the downtrodden, including outsiders. Conservatives are no less moral. If the needy are members of their fraternity or church, conservatives will give them the shoes off their feet. Outsiders, however, they see as threats.

This is according to research by social scientists, including Jonathan Haidt from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Responses to Facebook posts and comments after online articles bear out the research.

How would you feel if these were your children seeking refuge, one might ask? This question, too, elicits different answers.

The conservative mother cannot conceive of allowing her children to get into this situation. The liberal mother will put herself in the desperate mother’s place. She may question how she got there, but that isn’t as important as the fact that someone needs help.

With our psychological differences, there’s not much chance we can convince each other or even come to a compromise, right?

Wrong. There are things on which we agree. For example, we all agree that there’s a problem at the border. Let’s start there. Let’s not debate whose fault it is, because I have my theories and you have yours. Let’s not try to make political hay out of the situation. Let’s find solutions on which we can compromise.

It’s true that we need rules and boundaries to protect us. It is also true that we need compassion. The people who operate out of fear aren’t villains. Neither are the people who want to open the borders.

The real bad guys are the politicians and pundits who exploit our fears for power or profit.

Forget the politicians and pundits. The people can set things right if we will just acknowledge each others’ rights to be what we are, either liberal or conservative, and seek common ground. Then it will be up to the politicians to do our bidding.

Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.