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The Hub for Important Ideas
The Hub for Important Ideas

Episode · 2 years ago

Unity featuring Dan Liechty - Episode 24

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

How do we unite our divided country? This episode looks
at the differences between the liberal and conservative alignments in our
culture and explores ways to unite our fractured society.
  

How do we unite our divided country? Welcome to the hub for important ideas. I'm Steve James and I'm Ken Swain. In this episode we look at the differences between the liberal and conservative alignments in our culture and explore ways to unite our fractured society. We're going to play for you another interview we conducted recently with Dr Dan Lichty. Then Lichty, Ph d, doctor of ministry, is a professor of social work at Illinois State University, where he teaches human behavior. He is trained in academic religious studies, mental health work and pastoral counseling and is a licensed clinical social worker. He's the world's foremost authority on the work of Ernest Becker and is the author or editor of nine books, including the Ernest Becker reader, transference and transcendence, death and denial and reflecting on faith in a post Christian time. is also an avid amateur folk singer. Here's the interview with Dr Lichty. Normally, when Steve Says Review the basic ideas of Ernest Becker, I basically get ready to take a nap because I because I think I think I know what that is, and then you start out right away yeah, say anything about mortality, sailience or death denial. You're talking about expanded transference and I'm going, wait a minute, wait a minute, expanded transference. Fuck, is that? So? I'm just like listening along like wow, this, I'm learning new stuff here, stands like not getting to the stuff that I thought it was going to be until the last, the last little tagline. Okay, all right, there, you got a document. The refer you gotta follow the Yellow Birth, I guess. Okay, let's start again. Three, two, one, then welcome back to the hub. We really appreciate your being with us again. Good to see you again. Thank you. Let me start by just reading a something here that we had sent you. It has to do with this whole moral foundation's theory. I'm referencing moral foundations dot org. Right, moral foundations theory was created by a group of social and cultural psychologists to understand why morality vary so much across cultures, it still shows so many similarities and recurrent themes. Right. In brief, the theory proposes that several innate and universally available psychological systems are the foundations of quote, intuitive ethics. We're out, yes, but each culture then constructs, virtues, narratives, institutions on top of these foundations, thereby creating the unique moralities we see around the world and conflicting within nations too. I would say that these are values that all people hold, but for some people they're dominant and other people their subdominant right and moral foundations. There is trying to look at what all as far as we know, I'll you know, as far as we can tell. I mean, we don't know what happened before there was writing, but you know, what are the things that that all people tend to hold in common, all cultures tend to hold in common? And then ask the question, if we hold all these things in common, then why do we have so many differences as well? And what they're seeing is that the differences are not differences of kind, their differences of emphasis. Right, yeah, so can you list the moral foundations for us and we can discuss them a little bit. But what are they? They're six of them, as far as we know at this point. Well, the first one is care and harm. In other words, and I'm using my own terms here and maybe not the ones that, if you that are on the website there, but care and harm in other words, there's a preference for caring and a disk preference for harming. There's a sense that when you act in a caring way, that's good and when your purposely harmful to others, that's not good. And that's one of them. Another one is the idea of fairness and justice, that that's when we treat people with fairness and justice, that's a good thing. When we treat them unfairly and in just that's not a good thing. Now, when you know cheat, if we cheat, cheat right, if we cheat, that's not a good thing. This all combines with other elements of the system. But there is the idea that what's okay to cheat people who are not part of your clan, for example, that that would be where the loyalty and betrayal kind of in group preference comes in, and that's another one...

...of the axioms that generally speaking, we honor loyalty and see disloyalty as not good, and that relates to this idea of what psychologists call in group preference. To do harm to your in group because you're doing a favor for the out group, for those that are not in your in group. We call that treason. Basically, and you know, betrayal. So right, betrayal, and that that's pretty much holds across cultures. There is a preference for the words I use of my classes, liberty and oppression. In other words, there's a press, prince, for allowing people to feel free, not in the sense of like free to do anything you want, but a sense that their life is their own life rather than being tyrannized by other by, you know, by power or something like that. Now, now, this gets us into trouble, especially with our current terminology, with libertarianism and all that kind of stuff, this idea that all freedom is is essentially economic freedom. That doesn't hold at all. Even the most, what would you say the most imbedded European peasant would rather feel that in their daily life they're doing what they like to do then constantly having the boot on their neck, is how we say it. Yeah, but that doesn't mean that what they want is economic freedom. And Mean Tolstoi found this out when he, quote, freed the serfs that were on his land. You know, as a state, they didn't know what to do. The first understanding, anyway, is that the first question one asked him when he said now you're free, you can and then they said, well then, who do we pair taxes to? People don't necessarily want to just be totally free with no rules and so forth. So that's one thing, but on the other hand nobody likes the boot, you know, that image of the boot on your neck kind of thing. Another one is the idea of authority. Right. This kind of relates to that, the idea that we are people who live under authority and that we owe certain kinds of allegiance to that authority and that we tend to look askance at those who purposely undermine the authority. Okay, and I think we see that in American political system a lot, where one side sees the other as subversive, as undermining authority. But now, I mean, look how upset the liberal side has gotten when trump doesn't want to admit that he lost or whatever. They see that a subversy. We're saving our democracy. But on both sides there's a tendency to look really askance at those who undermine authority. You can say the same thing about people wearing masks or not wearing masks. PERPOSE, too bad, that that should be something much more objective. But and it's too bad that that got mixed up into this ideology. But yeah, I mean there are those. You know what was that? I was listening to something the other day where it was a news report where a woman said you can't make me wear a mask. There's nowhere in the constitution that says I have to wear a mask. That's really kind of an apples and oranges thing in terms of the comparison, but on the other hand, she definitely felt that to tell her what she had to do was undermining, was running against what she took to be the authority of the Constitution. So we all have our respect for authority and we all have our resistance to that which we see subverting that authority. Steve and I were talking about this just before and we were asking that exact thing. Where in the constitution do you go to say that you can shut people's businesses down, because for a lot of people it's not just wearing a mask. There's a lot of restaurant tours and other businesses who have lost their livelihood and are likely never going to get it back. Yeah, and again this is just poor imaginative planning on the part of this administration. Long before we talked about shutting businesses down. We should have had clear programs. In effect, we're talking about a matter of months that businesses need to be shut down. So the question is not shutting them down permanently, but the question is how do we help them stay afloat at least minimally, during these months when we need to shut down? And it feels like threatening with death, practically with murder, to just say you have to shut down when there's no program in place to tie you over. It practically is murder. Yeah, in a way, a certainly economic murder. Then and then one more that I haven't talked about here is what in my classes I call sanctity versus degradation. There's this idea that there are certain things that are holy, that are sacred, you should treat with respect, and that we have a sometimes almost a regurgitation, a version when we see these things being just desecrated. Right. So, for example, it's one thing to hear that someone murdered somebody. It's a whole nother thing to hear that they murdered them and ate their heart and you know had intercourse with...

...the corps. You know there's something. There's something that Gooch is in, which is in here, by the way. It's very upsetting to read that part. Yeah, well, there's things that go beyond not even all that. Just say that they dug up the body and cut up the corpse. There's something about the human body that has a certain kind of dignity or a certain kind of and the temple. There's a temple. Yeah, temple. And Yeah, then sanctity, right, and I should do with purity and cleanliness. A lot of that, a lot of that, and just those things which are set aside and holy. And the more mundane example would be the way that some people can get so exercised by watching American flag being mistreated. Oh yeah, right now, and it's a crime in some places. Yeah, in Judaism, I mean, I had to learn you there are certain kinds of things you just don't do. To me. A book is a book, right, you don't, but you don't take your Torah and set it on the floor underneath your chair while because it can or not even just the Torah, the song book, because it has the name of God in it. I mean, we're talking about liberal Judaism. You're you know, we're talking about reform, liberal Judaism I had to learn as a protestant. We just thought of the Bible. It was the content of the Bible that was holy, but not the book's thing. Yeah, it was just a book, but there's rules and what you can do with with a Torah or with a song book. And then if it's a tourist scroll, then it's even more so. Then there's even rules for how went of Taurus scroll becomes. You know, you can't use it anymore than that. You have to you have to bury it in a certain way and all this kind of stuff. There's no reason for that. I mean, when you think about it, I mean that kind of I guess I still have that kind of a conoclastic Protestant perspective of like, well, that's all just superstition, or that's what but you know it's not just superstition. Yeah, but the same is true for the flag. I would know boy scouts. There were all these rules about Oh yeah, absolutely, I can't. It can't be out after dark, it's got to be lit right, might touch it can't touch the ground right. All that once once it's past the point where it's added or dirty, you can't throw it away. It has to be burned, to be cut. That's to be cut into three precise pieces. Yeah, and then it can be burned because once it's cut into those three pieces of the flag, anymore lagg out. Oh yes, is wow. Oh yeah, that's you're Oh, yeah, Mus step here. My uncle Dan was the foremost authority in the United States, probably the world on how to treat the flag. I think there's probably a Russian guy somewhere that maybe. I think you're probably think you're probably right about that. But but this is a thing. So that's a basic idea that we have. In all cultures you find things that are wholly now they're all different things, you know. That varies from culture to culture, but we all find things that are holy, that are sacred, that are set apart and that we just have a certain aversion to watch and be, yes, treated and degradated and so far. But you made a good point. You're saying where you're coming from, a book is just a book. Right, it's the content that's holy, where sacred, but to a different group it's the scroll and the book as well. So that gets us to how divided we are as a society, and this liberal conservative divide that we're finding him almost impossible to bridge. Now, how do we get across this divide and Converse intelligently with these other folks? Well, I think moral foundations theory is important because it gives us a window into instead of just seeing ourselves as divided. MMM, we hold these values, you hold these values. Moral foundations theory rather says no, we all hold these six things, we just hold them in different one trump's the other in certain Portuations and block we all believe that fairness and justice is better than unfairness and injustice, but we have different ways when we have to weigh one value against the other. That might not be as high on the list for one side as, let's say, loyalty betrayal. Right, and it's not a question of one side holds to this, to these values, and one side holds of these values. We all hold the same values. We just weigh them differently. As all values do in life, they come in conflict with each other. There are times in life when you have to decide which is more important in this situation, and liberals tend to hold very highly to the idea of liberty and justice and probably, maybe, maybe, care, right care, as those are the dominant values for liberals and conservatives tend to hold authority. You respect for authority and respect for that which is sacred sanctity, and maybe loyalty. Yeah, loyalty. In the pinch, those get valued higher for conservatives and in a pinch, the other the other ones get...

...valued higher for liberals. But it doesn't mean that we don't hold them all in common and that, theoretically, could give us a common language from which we could start talking with each other. And if your concern is to open up fields of dialog between yourself and those who disagree with you politically, one of the things you have to do is really look at the things that they do hold and recognize that you hold those things also, and speak of the common ground in those values. It's just that they hold some things as dominant and other things a subdominant, whereas that kind of mirrors your own point of view, that you hold the things they hold this dominant, you sort of hold a subdominant and the things they hold a subdominant you kind of hold his dominant. But boldamantly we are speaking the same language here. Well, here's some example. These are these are great, these are music terms. He's using I just want to point that out. Done. Um, okay, so dominant is the four chord and dominant is the five chord. That I just want to point out that John Height has a video on these things. Dan, I don't. You probably haven't seen it. Steve sent me a great collection of video, but he puts these on a graphic equalizer, another musical a pestlipment, right, and he said that conservatives tend to have them all at about the same volume level. Couple are slightly variant, but that liberals pulled the last three down right and don't give them any yeah, I don't agree with that. I don't know. I'm just saying what he said that. Yeah, I know not. They don't care that. They don't care that much about authority. Now, I don't think that as a as a thing. I don't think that's true. Everyone Needs Authority. What we've spoken of before about expanded transference, Uh Huh. We are all people that need authority. are absolute core experience in life of every human being that ever lived. Our core experience in life is being totally dependent on a higher power for our very existence. HMM, and that stays with us our whole life. That's that is. That is the core thing in your belly, there your whole life, and so all of us need to have authority. All of us need to feel that we're under authority. Are We feel best, let's say, when we really feel that we're under authority. But liberals may also see liberty and riddence of tyranny as a dominant good and respect for authority as a subdominant good. But to say that conservatives hold everything equally and liberals let the last three drop out, that is not true in my experience at all. But what I would say is that the liberal mentality, you're right, may value liberty more and so is concerned about oppression, but will value science, the Scientific Authority, higher. Depends what you mean by that. I don't hold scientific authority in that high regard. Scientific Authority put its stamp of approval on Eugenic Yeah, Scientific Authority is what's given us the arms race. Scientific Authority is and what's given us the socalled green revolution, but that just means using chemicals to squeeze the last drop of everything we can out of our soil, and so we're I don't really hold scientific authority in that higher regard. I think when we're talking about. Yeah, but you're a PhD. I mean that's easier for you. I've felt that way long before I was a PhD. Okay, Scientific Authority is what created the levies in New Orleans that then ended up flooding the whole city. I think using evidence and a long term sense of the rewards and achievements, that's one thing, but science doesn't really do that. I mean, for the most part, science is very much immediate oriented. If you took all Pentagon money out of science, there wouldn't be any science in America. You know, the idea that there's some chemistry professor at the local college who's up in his lab they're running these really interesting experiment ments. That's not what science is nowadays. Science is a major, big business, and science is totally dependent on defense suspending money. And why would we think the defense spending money would warp the results? Yeah, why would we think that it would warp the results in atomic fit physics, that is moving it towards creating a bomb, and not in the area of psychology, which moves it in the direction of coming up with ever more efficient torture techniques. Well, let me give you or giving everybody in the world ss our eyes. Exactly exactly. I mean, I don't have that high regard. I have a high regard for evidence based knowledge, okay, but the idea that science is our authority, I don't. I don't...

...agree with that at all. So let me before you jump in, Steve, I want to ask one question, because Steve and I talked about science when we were little and we have a picture of guys with white shirts and they had those plastic right shirt pocket protectors in the pockets and a slide rule because there was no calculator right. But those guys, at least Steve and I, think of as above what you're talking about now. And you have, I'm going to give you the perfect opportunity to shoot my shoot my childhood dream right out of the air. We thought you mean above? Well, I mean that those guys there was no amount of money you could offer them that would get them to lie about what their research proves. Do you really think that's true? Well, well, I did. I like that thinking it was. I liked thinking it was true. I think they were just as crooked then and up for sale. That was like the guys that those are the guys that gave us eugenics. Those are the guys that gave us the bomb. Those are the guys that gave us the quote Green Revolution. That I mean. The Green Revolution was a great thing, had fed a lot of people, but also just meant we created a lot more people and kick the ecological can down the road. I mean it's really look, I have a lot of respect for evidence based knowledge. I don't think that science has more to tell us about where we should be going than anyone else. Well, let me give you a different, completely different example set the science sociede for a second. Here's from the November twenty seven New York Times, so the day after Thanksgiving. This is from a gentleman named Daniel mock or match. He's the director for the American Civil Liberties Unions Freedom of religion and belief program and he said the freedom to worship is one of our most cherished fundamental rights, but it does not include a license to harm others or in danger public health. The article also says the author of the article was just saying if unconstrained religious observance and public safety were sometimes at odds. As a governor, that's governor Cuomo and other public officials maintained, the Supreme Court ruled that religious freedom should win out. Now I went back and looked at the first amendment. First amender the constitution says Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. So the Supreme Court, originally when Ruth Bader Ginsberg was alive, they ruled in favor of New York state. But then this suit came up to the Supreme Court again. It's being presented by Orthodox Jews and the Catholic Church in Brooklyn saying Governor Cuomo cannot tell us to restrict the size of our congregations. And CUOMO was looking at his map and he finds an orange or you know, red area and says, oh, that's a hot spot. You have to restrict your meeting to ten people, and here's another spot you can only have twenty five people. And they're saying hell no, that's an infringement on our religious right under the constitution. And the new Supreme Court, which is more conservative, ruled five to four against New York. So my reaction to this is that here we have the conservative reference for the sanctity moral foundation versus the liberal preference for the Care Harm Foundation. And then liberty and authority are also involved, and the Conservatives are maintained that the government does not have the power, as you say, to force people to wear masks, does to force the people to limit the size of their groups and and have covid tests and the rest of it. So the Supreme Court, now more conservative Supreme Court, sided with the moral foundation of sanctity and said no, you know, yeah, we have a pandemic, yeah, we're concerned about harm, but the constitutions saying, and that's the authority, the Authority is saying, sanctity is most important, and of course the liberals have their own responses to that. Is that a good example in your mind? Let me respond to that. But let me back up a little bit. What was the rule there about religion can have freedom, but they can impact negatively on the others. How read that part? That read that part again. That was the American that's from the Constitution. No, no, that's the American civil liberties, you know. Okay, read that again. It says the freedom to worship is one of our...

...most cherished fundamental rights, but it does not include a license to harm others. or in danger public health. Okay, now, substitute the freedom of worship, take that part out. Yeah, and put in unlimited scientific inquiry in its place, and read that sentence again. Okay, so unlimited scientific inquiry is one of our most cherished fundamental rights, but it does not include a license to harm others or in danger public health. While though. Now, now we went back to one, nine hundred thirty and I said, as a rule of thumb, all scientific inquiry has to come through this filter. MMM, how much of what's happened would be strained out? I mean, scientific inquiry has been certainly it's had its good thing. I'm not saying it's not, like I say, evidence, base knowledge, yes, but but scientific inquiry has given us some of the worst elements of modern society that we have to deal with. But is it sanctifies? Is it held in the same regard as for those of us, for those of us in the educated Liberal Group, I mean science, scize, science is practically our God. That's what we genuflect to, that's what we are so I'm saying that that's the first part to question. The second thing would be how much different would things have been if cuomo instead of saying here's a map, there's a red spot, tell those people they can what if they'd gone in? How does people go in there and sit down with the head rabbis and sit down with the priests and Archbishop or whatever of that area and say look, here's the problem. You don't want your people getting sick and dine. We also don't want other people to get sick and done. Please, within the context of your community, tell us what would make sense here. Right, instead of saying here's what you're going to do from from Albany, hundreds of miles away, you right, you're right, hey, who cults they're going to do in city? Then you do that and you end up immediately with a contest between WHO's God right. Are you guys God, or is God got right? But if you come at it from the perspective, this is a community people. They have different ways of doing things, different values, and asking them to work with you to come up with I don't even want to say restrictions because that's already saying something, but that's already pointing towards a conclusion. But coming up with some ethic, policy, ethics or policy way of carrying on your worship and carrying on your belief system, and we totally respect that. But that will maximize safety. I don't think that those people would be backed off and feel up against the wall and feel they have to know and in fact, that you're right, where the head rabbi and the Archbishop or whatever that we're saying to people. Look, folks, you know this is serious stuff. I've seen the computer models in this kind of stuff, and so here's what we're going to do. I think people would be happy to do it. Now. Here's the response from Cuomo. I don't have a written in front of me, but what he said was, oh, well, this is now a partisan supreme court. It's political is, these are trump appointees that are voting this way, and so he automatically politicized it. And you're right. He in no way sat down with the folks in Brooklyn, with this bishop who was bringing the suit, with your right, with this head rabbi was bringing. Never would have gone that far. They never would have gone. But the liberal mind is well, these are super spreader events and that word super spreader gets thrown around a lot. Yeah, because it justifies whatever you're about to do. But an unspoken assumption in that is we know what's best. Right? Why? Because Science Right. So it's setting one God against another. God. Right. Well, they and the other side is saying we know what's best because God. And so I mentioned this two people in my family over the holidays and one response was yeah, and then they went out and had a one thousand guest wedding. I'm going with no masks, super spreader event. So the question of my mind was, yeah, was that a response to somebody with, like you say, with a boot on their neck? Well, like we're will show you. I can guarantee you that. The chief rabbi, I don't know if that was the mobitor or Soth Moore it if the chief rabbi, had been saying to people, we have to take this seriously. We want to carry on as much of our traditions and our worship and our life together as we can, but we need to do it in a responsible way. Let's try to think this through, let's try to work things out. They would have had the wedding right, but it would have been very different than the wedding they had yes, Yep, and everyone could rejoice with the couple and there...

...could be all kinds of ecstatic dancing and all this kind of stuff that goes on at these weddings and the and the community celebration of this formation of a new family. Right, but in ways that at least that wouldn't have been just seen as defiance, but would have been at least trying to act responsive. Possibly, yeah, the context of an epidemic. So in the GEAT and in the context of a pandemic, the care, harm concern becomes paramount, particularly in the liberal mind, and one of the things that I find most it's there in the other what I'm saying is, so it's the other side too. It's a matter of how do you? How do you? How do you speak to that so that you're actually talking with each other instead of God versus God? Right, God is more powerful. But here's the problem as I see it, and I, like you, like to chat with people who are Libertarians, who are conservatives, and I like to tune in a Fox News now and then listen to talk radio. One of the problems you run into is this team mentality or tribe mentality. So now what you're hearing on the right is, well, this pandemic, that's a flu it's only a slightly worse than the flew a couple years ago when a hundred seventyzero people died of influenza and pneumonia, pneumonia related illness, and so okay, so we got two hundred and Fiftyzero deaths. Well, when they had a hundred seventyzero deaths, they didn't have a lockdown, people didn't lose their jobs, we went ahead with it. And look at the pandemic in one thousand nine hundred and eighteen. Look how bad that was. We didn't have lockdowns then and and all of a sudden you're dealing with a negation of the severity of the pandemic. So now mask wearing becomes a political statement because you're saying, well, I'm taking this seriously, and the other person is saying, Pah, we don't take that seriously. Right. The problem is, of course the intervention has to come. It's like people say, well, what would you do if Hitler we're going to murder your family? Would you still be non violent? Well, the point is the interventions have to take place long before you, long before you're asking that question, right. And so, for example, in this situation it's not a question of Quomo sticking up for the common good and the rabbis and the priests being selfish. Cuomo is the God evener of the State of New York, which includes these people as their beloved citizens. The attitude is not who's more powerful. Once it gets to that, it's over with. If you're in the bit. been from the beginnings cuomos people going in there and saying, and I want to say cuomost people. I mean that could have been any but with the authority of the state to go in and say we really value the way that you guys live and we don't want to interrupt that. But on the other hand, here's what our computer projections say about living in a pandemic, and we need you to help us learn how we can mitigate the danger while not interfering in any way that you feel is fundamentally destructive to your community, because that's the last thing we want to do. We don't want to destroy your communities. We value your communities very highly, even if we don't believe the same way you do. We value the fact that there are people in our community that believe the way you do and we don't want it less than that. In any way. So please help us. Let's put our minds together. Come let us reason together, is how the Scripture says it, and figure out how we can you know what makes sense here. But let me add another problem to this. A conservative reader of this article will see the inherent bias in the way the article is written. The liberal will not. They'll read the night would yeah, you would. But the New York Times reader, the NPR listener, right, the typical liberal mind, will look at it and go well, of course care and harm has to be the most important thing and of course they can practice their religion all they want. They just can't meet in groups of more than ten, but they can practice their religion if they want. And you go, Whoa Wall. Wait a minute, read between the lines in this article. The article is taking you into that conclude that camp, to that camp. It's taking you there. And they feel that when they say, well, The New York Times just take news, see Na stuff news, because when it comes down to it, I don't really know that your average reader of the New York Times really does value having these people as part of our community. I don't know that they really do that. I think they see them as sort of maybe like the way you'd think of something on your you know, some kind of outgrowth on...

...your arm. It's not killing anything, but when it comes down to it, I don't think your average well, I can't speak for that. Let's just say this. I think a lot of people they don't spend very much time meditating on how much value having communities like this that are really countercultural bring to our society. They're sort of tolerant of them. They're like, okay, well, if they don't hurt anybody, you know whatever. But the idea that we would be poor without these community these I don't think most people think that way. They think basically the kind of American culture that we have is what everything should be, we think. Often time. I've noticed this a lot of people because I grew up in a minutonite tradition where where we also have our conservative side, you know, the black hatters that amish sure, and a lot of people when they think about Amish children, for example, or they think I've noticed this just because that's what I'm closest to, but I see the same thing when we're talking about lovovishers and other kinds of the soft Mars and other kinds of very conservative Judaism. Their assumption is that most of those children are chafing at the bit and can't wait to get out. That's not true. No, that's just not true. But that shows the bias that we have, that we don't really value those communities. We don't really think that our lives would be poorer without them. We just think of it in terms of a power struggle. When it comes down to it, we tolerate them as long as they're not hurting anybody, but as soon as they start hurting anybody, then we go in full guns and well, that's not democracy. Really very quake. The quake curiosity right, and in that sense I agree with it. I agree with this Supreme Court, with current Supreme Court, that we need to value religious liberty much more than we have in the past. I would agree with that from a different perspective than what at least from the I've read the whole read the whole judgment there the whole decision, but from the part that I've heard about on the talk shows, I would hold that from a different perspective than they wrote for them. But, for example, in my tradition the question was had to do with two amish have the right to raise their own children schooling or do they need to send them to the public schools? And there the question really came down to, and you can see this very clearly in retrospect. It really came down to the question of is an Amish school valid? Every every parent wants to educate their kids. They don't want to have uneducated kids. The question is, what are you educating them for? And that came up in New York City in terms of fees, orthod shoes and so they're saying the education that they're young people was getting did not meet the standards of the New York state right of d but what is meant by that? When they say it doesn't meet the Standards Right, essentially education. If you think of it this way, schooling right is a continuation of the socialization process that started in the family. And when people say it doesn't meet the standards of the of the state, what they're assuming is that the child needs to be educated in order if they want to at some point in the future be able to fit into the wider society. But if you're educating the child basically so that they're able to function fine within the small community, but they really don't have the knowledge they need or whatever to leave that community. That's an addict with well, you know, that's getting pretty close to tyranny where that and that was parents right, and that was the argument back what thirty, forty years ago, against black studies in the university, because the white establishment saw no value right in learning about the struggle of African Americans throughout our history, the achievements of African America. This is it. They's just dismissed it. I said no, no, we got more important stuff to teach you. Right, yeah, that on your own. We see that all along. That what's going on is a struggle over the question of what are we preparing young people for in their education? Are we preparing them to live in the communities in which they're born and nurtured, or are we preparing them to live in communities in which they'll leave and just become part of America? Actually, even we don't even have to go to the religious stuff. Just small town people say you'd send him to college. That's just like putting a stamp on them and we never see him again. We're not sending kids to university so that they will then come back to their small town and enrich the life of that small town. We send universities so that they can become doctors and lawyers and things, which basically mean the big cities, going to where the jobs are. You know that kind of thing, and it's no wonder that people feel resentful of that. Sure, yeah, absolutely. Now to shift it a little bit...

...further, the pandemic seems to have really opened up this this fissure between Liberals and conservatives in our society. We steep, steep before you go any further with this. And while we're talking about creative ways of navigating this divide, I don't know if you guys heard this, but this podcast is being recorded around Thanksgiving and we just had thanksgiving. I don't know which state it was, I think maybe California, who had put limits. I think they put a limit of ten people on a social gathering, but I think they put a limit of thirty people on a funeral. So what was said was only have ten people if you can, but if you have to have more, it's not a Thanksgiving celebration, it's a funeral for the jury. That's a good I thought it was funny. I think it's funny. And believe me, if your Mennonite, you understand very clearly the idea that you'll find ways to stretch the rules so that you can live with and the rules are Huh, but you stretch them so that you can do what you want to do. Sir Thomas Moore was huge about that. When the king said you have to take an oath, he'd say, we'll let me see the oath. There may be a way to take it. Yes, right, you know. Well, that's a fictionalized representation of what happened with Sir Chyma's more, but anyway. So we've got these two notions of liberty versus the common good, and that's coming to the for in this pandemic, and actually this is coming from you, Dan, that we have to balance the two. You have to balance rights and responsibilities. You have to have balance going process of an ongoing process. Don't ever reach an absolute sounds and then and then from then on we just you're done. Life goes on and what's a reasonable balance at one time becomes out of balance and then we need to bring it back into balance, and so we're always striving for a balance that we probably never really reach. As soon as you think you've reached it. Life has moved on. But for a healthy political life it's the recognition that this is an ongoing dynamic that we hold in front of us right and are moving towards constantly. Yes, and we have said in the past that our society is out of balance and turn one way to the edge of yes, of individualism right, and you look at a society like North Korea and their way out of balance in the other direction, as far as we know. We don't really know much about that society, but we certainly know what society. I would say America in the S was way on the communal side, and so therefore guys like Lenny Bruce and people like that they come along and they're going to challenge that and and suffered as a result. Was a time, for example, when saying the seven words that you can't say and and all that kind of stuff, that was a needed corrective to move us back in the other to get us to question are commonplaces. But now when every other word isn't it is the F word and and people can access hardcore pornography for free, eight year olds can access hardcore burn our on the Internet for free. Screw magazine is not a signal of freedom anymore. No, right, much the other way. That's what I'm saying, and I think that when we're way out on this edge of where no one can tell anyone else what to do and every person just thinks that they're in it for themselves, that's the point of time in which we need very concertedly to start emphasizing the common good again and try to bring this pendulum back more towards the middle ground. Now at some point we may have to start moving it back the other way too, and it may be even on certain issues, the pendium is not always at the same place throughout the whole society. On one issue it maybe swung very far one direction and on another one it may be in the other direction. The Conservatives probably have the same concern for the common good, but without the kind of liberal emphasis that you go where's the Libertarians are probably much more into their own personal freedom, their their own right to do what they want, and I respect that and I agree with them fifty percent of the time. Interns when it yeah, they want to legalize drugs and they want to legal lies prostitution and they and they're against war. They don't like the idea of being taxed so that a trillion dollars could be spent on killing people in the Middle East. You know a lot of things that I look at their positions and I go yeah, I agree with that in principle. Anyway, you know what this is back so want to get they also want to get rid of public education. Well, then it gets into the craziness. This is back in seventy seven, one thousand nine hundred and seventy eight, I was in seminary and I had to write a senior thesis there, a senior, you know, master's thesis, and this was at the time when Liberation Theology...

...and Christianity and Marxism and all this kind of stuff was kind of the big I don't want to say fat because that's to dismissing but getting a lot of attention on the left. I wrote a Master's thesis that basically argued that if there is such a thing as a Christian politics, it would look much more like anarchy than it would anything else. It would look much more like God is God and and that gives people tons of freedom, and that Christian politics would be one that emphasizes that freedom and at that time nobody was saying this kind of thing. I mean there was Jacque Alul, you know, who is right, some stuff like that, and maybe one or two others. But the biggest difference was during the s the rise of the Libertarians actually started to happen, or, you know, the rise of the libertarian wing of the of what became the conservative movement, back when you couldn't yet tell who was libertarian or democratic, part and parcel of everything that was, in my understanding, of the anarchist vision of society is non violence and that we govern ourselves by voluntary associations. My whole network of voluntary associations. Well, the people that came to for in the quote Libertarian Political Philosophy area, they couldn't show enough money to the you know, they said the government is not justified to do anything except defense. Yes, and if forced contracts, but both of those you're talking about, that those are the coercive ends of government. Yeah, the military on the one side and the police force on the other side, which is ultimately what enforcement of contracts comes down to. I immediately realize, though, this is not what I'm talking about at all and I stopped using that kind of terminology. But to see if Jonathan Height spells souths moral foundations in terms of liberal versus conservative. I think he's got a now go back and look at them again. In terms of Libertarian we know where the Greens are. The Greens are out there on the left, but the libertarians seem to value different moral foundations, or they emphasize the more, I should say, then do conservatives and liberals like their whole thing about liberty. Libertarian is almost a religion. Everything gets filled altered through this concept of liberty. Well, that's true enough, but what I would really like to see at this point would be someone who's totally versed in Libertarian ideology and has been a spokesperson for Libertarian ideology now, at this point, come back around and say what are the common foundations that we owe each other? Anybody who says you don't know anything to anybody, they're just out in the left field. I mean that's very clear. That much as I might like to walk around and Think, Oh, I don't know anything to anybody, I'm going to get into a car that I didn't build right, drive it on, going to drive it on a road that you didn't build. Yeah, and we're maintain. Yeah, so what I would like to see is a serious libertarian philosopher who's going to be spending the next ten years at least, articulating what it is that, from a libertarian perspective, makes sense, about what we owe each other. Yeah, and what does that really mean? And so, for example, one thing they might say as well, the common defense. That's something we owe, owe each other. Well, what does the common defense mean in the time of a pandemic? MMM, you see what I'm saying? What? Let's don't just throw out some areas and then forget about them, let's really explore them. Yeah, and ask ourselves if we recognize that we owe each other common defense, which I think most libertarians would say we do. Sure. And what does common defense mean when the quote enemy is not a foreign invader, but it said, virus? True, let's have some political philosophy about that. Let's have some deep political discussion about that, not just throw slogans around at each other. Let's have some deep thinking about that and we might well come up with some things that people would agree with across the board, from the most liberal liberal to the most Libertarian Libertarian. We would come up with ideas that all of us could not our head to and say, yeah, that's right, that makes sense, let's implement that. So, John, if we, if we can find that libertarian philosopher, would you join a discussion? Well, I certainly would. Yeah, well, that would be interesting. Yeah, although I'm probably rather just read their books, because I think better when I'm reading and meditating than it when I'm just parlaying back and forth. You know what I'm saying? Yeah, but we don't think anybody's going to tune in to watch a video of you reading a book. Maybe they will, but see day. I love what you're saying, I absolutely do. And so one of the things that can had brought up when he and I were talking about this. He says, you use this question and we want to bring it back to you now. Yeah, this is my new favorite question and it's yours. What...

...can we live with and not live with? There are things in this conservative Libertarian position that I can live with right, and then there are a couple, like can brings up public education. Let's just dispand public education, and I MMM, sorry, I can't live with that one. What are you seeping down, even down at the most basic level? Yeah, in my neighborhood, I would mow my yard differently than one of my neighbors and I would I'm sure some of my neighbors that probably are a little irked about the fact that I'm not such a big yard keeper, big on we killing, you know, they want to get, you know, and and my dandelions school over into their yard and all the dandelions. But on the whole we can live with each other. And even if someone started throwing their garbage out into their yard, to a certain extent we could live with that, but it would reach a point where we couldn't live with that anymore. Right if four neighbors started doing that or many neighbors start, and that's bringing in the raccoons, which is in bringing in the coyotes, which is the bringing it. You know, at some point we'd have to say we can't live with this anymore and we need to come up with some kind of communal agreement that's going to fold things back a little bit, move things a few steps backwards, and that's kind of how I would vision, envision a free society when we're talking about well, let's say, any any kind of social issue where we're having disagreements with each other. It's not a question of coming up with the policy that everyone agrees with, it's coming up with enough of a balance that we can all live with it right, that we don't feel that we have to that we have to go out and try to I don't know. I mean there's nothing wrong with trying to change someone's point of view, but do it in a way that's coercive, that we have to bring the I don't know, bring the thought police, the thought police. Right, we want people to have freedom, individual freedom and so forth, but we live within a community and so ultimately we have to ask ourselves what can we live with, just like we're speaking about one point, about the question of where does life begin, and therefore have an Abra upon we're never going to answer that question where life begins. What we can do is answer the question, and it may not be a once and for all thing. It may be something that squint when that bat goes, but yeah, that's wings. But ask ourselves the question, at what age will we have bodily integrity trump the fetal like to life that we can live with, that the majority of us can say, okay, I may like it or may not like it. I'd rather have it be much more time, or I'd rather have it be much less time, but or no time at all, not at all time at all. That ever. Well, there might, those people may never be happy. Yeah, probably not. And then the question is, you got a sperm in an egg. Why is it okay to not allow US sperm in an egg to meet in the first place? Isn't that taking away someone's potential life? It never ends as the point. Well, that gets to contraception, which some people consider a mortal sin. I'm good for them. Well, I'm I'm of our society. What I think any of those people recognize that if they try to make a big deal out of that, they're not going to get nowhere? And say because it's it's such a minority view. Well, I am glad that they hold that view. I'm glad that those people are part of our society. But ultimately what we're looking for is that place where most people can feel okay about not to say they love it, but we can live with it. Well, that's really all democratic politics is about. It's en up with but it's also but that's Rick Santorum, okay, who was a US senator who ran for president at one point. So it is conceivable that you could have a US president with that view. Well, I think that's Biden's view. That's very probable. Yeah, most think that's bidens. Probably Pence's view. Well, Biden. Yeah, no, no, no, pens is way off on the pens. I don't know, maybe I but my understanding is that pence is way off on the conception side of things. Pence is not saying I can live with six weeks or eight weeks or twelve weeks or whatever. Pence is saying that may be as good as we can do now, but ultimately we want to keep shoving it back and shoving it back. That's right. So keep saying bidens. I don't think pence would ever be in the situation where, if someone were trying to shove it back, he would be defending the need to keep it mmm where it is. I agree. I'm saying, yeah, that's a different kind of thing. But you're saying, Biden, we ultimately tag the Catholic position. He's a Catholic, he's an Irish Catholic. He would ultimately take the position that contraception is should you know, I wasn't talking about the conferention, so talking about abortion. A boy. Think Biden Roman Catholic.

I think on the whole he supports the Catholic point of view, and even on birth control, as far as I know, although he doesn't have a dozen kids, only as too, so, so left. Yeah, yeah, you're yeah, you're right. I'm scratching that. I shouldn't speak flippantly about that at all. But the point is a lot of Catholics practice were control even though they know that they don't hold to the doctrine of the Catholic Church. But Anyway, the point is, even if Biden were, you know, when it comes to holding in his own life the precepts of the Catholic Church on contraception and abortion, as president, he would recognize that his view is out of step with the majority and that he would be supportive of finding a compromise position right with all the members of society. That at least we can all live with. There may be very few people that feel that that's the ideal position, but it's something we can live with, given that you and I have to live together in this country and work together. It's clear I'm not going to convince you and you're not going to convince me. So what can we come up with that everyone can at least live with? And is that what you see as the the way to unite our fractured society someday? I think that way. I mean it's question of chicken in the egg. I think if we had a dynamic democratic society, not just structurally but in people's hearts, dynamic democracy, then I think that those kind of compromises on all kinds of issues would emerge organically and again, you know, things might swing this way a little, in that way a little, and and etc. Etc. But people that have democracy in their hearts are not looking to Lord it over everyone else. They're looking to respectfully find those areas, that territory in which we can all live together and feel good about each other. Right, right, it's anything else you want to add in this conversation, this has been another good one. Well, only that this is the kind of thing, this idea, that this balance between what would becker called maximum individuality within maximum community, and how that's the dynamic process. That's all stuff you find in his early works and it certainly is enhanced by the death anxiety thesis and all these other things, but vice versa. The death anxiety thesis and all the implications of that and the especially the extreme pessimism of about society and all is helped by digging into some of this earlier stuff and bringing it into conversation with the later stuff right in instead of just ignoring fascinating dad. This has been another terrific conversation. It's just we've got to do it again. So we got a lot of a lot more of these kinds of questions that really need your insight. But thank you. This is but I suggest next time, or at least we look forward to a future in which we can crack a cold one and do it instead of one zoom. Yeah, amnute. Amen, Steve and I. Steve and I are forty five minutes apart and we're not even having a beer. Exactly. Yeah, I know. That's the reality is. We started this when the pandemic hit and yeah, I think we've had like maybe one two sessions where we were in the same room together every yeah, this has been remote very the very first one the pandemic is just breaking in the news. Yeah, it was bro I definitely want to say yeah, go ahead, I definitely want to say to anyone listening drink responsibly, but on the other hand, a little bit of lubrication is also what I think of us, the democracy of the heart and and that kind of democratic discussion that we would have. Here you go, another lubrication never hurts. Another another important idea, another important idea, Dan. Thank you with so mo of them. This has been great. Thank you. Thanks. Dan. You've been listening to an interview with Dan Lichty on ways to unite opposing alignments in twenty one century America. So can what's your takeaway? Well, I have to say Steve Dan did it again. I know I know what you're going to say. You ask him a question, you more or less know, or think you know, what he's going to say, and his answer turns your head completely around, doesn't it? He started out with a straightforward discussion about moral foundations theory. He said there are values all people have in common, but that for some the values are dominant and for others they are subdominant. The differences between people are not differences of kind but differences of emphasis. He then enumerated the six moral foundations. So let me take a stab at them. Number one, care harm, a sense that you should act in a caring way and not purposely harm another. Fairness injustice. It's good to treat people with fairness and justice, not to cheat them. In general, loyalty, betrayal. That...

...relates to in group preferences. So to do harm to your own group is treason or betrayal. Liberty, oppression. There's a preference for people to feel free, a sense that their life is their own, rather than being tyrannized by others. Authority, subversion. We all live under authority. We owe certain kinds of allegiance to that authority and view people who undermine it as subversive. And the last one is sanctity, degradation. There are certain things that we hold wholly and sacred, that we treat with respect, and we are outraged, are nauseated by desecration. In all cultures there are things that are wholly but they vary from culture to culture. Some moral foundations. Theory gives us a window dance says we all hold these six values, but one may trump another. When weighing one value against another, and if we want to open a dialog with people we disagree with politically, we should look for the things that we both hold in common and find common ground. So some of the values may be dominant to you and subdominant to them. So we need to recognize that. So far, so good. So far, so good. We're all on the same page. Then we have a dance. Surprise. Yeah, yeah, dance. Says he disagrees with Jonathan Height about liberals having very little emphasis on loyalty, authority and Sanctity compared to conservatives. Now remember that height is one of the developers of moral foundations theory and wrote the popular book about it called the righteous mind. Height is adamant about the liberal conservative dichotomy that he promotes in Ted talks and on Bill Moyer's show the video that we watched. But Dan unexpectedly brings in the earnest becker concept of expanded transference. Dan maintains that our basic, core experience in life is being totally dependent on a higher power for our very existence and that that stays with us our whole life. And he says all of us need authority, but liberals may hold liberty as a dominant good and respect for authority as subdominant. I have to go along with Dan on this one. Good because the whole expanded transference idea through for a loop last time. But it does make perfect sense to look at moral foundations theory from an Ernest Becker perspective, which I don't know if heights ever Red Ernest Becker. So anyway, I think liberals have their authorities. They may be different from conservatives authorities, but there's always a butt. But but at the time and then interview I wanted to say that liberals respect science as an authority and Dan shot that one right down. Yeah, that was really unexpected. I was surprised. Dan Doesn't hold scientific authority in very high regard. He says using evidence in long term rewards and achievement is one thing, but he says science doesn't really do that. He said science today for the most part is very immediate oriented. It's dependent mostly on Pentagon money and it's a major, big business. He said defense spending warps the results in an atomic physics experiment towards creating a bomb and in the area of psychology towards evermore effective torture techniques. He said he has a high regard for evidence based knowledge but doesn't agree with science as our authority. He said for the liberal the Liberal Group, science is practically a God. That's what we genuflect to. A boy, I was stunned, but in a way he's right. Oh yeah, I just never thought of it that way. See, while he was talking, suddenly I saw the environment problem in a whole New Light. If we, we liberals, are genuflecting to science as a God and the other side is okay with evidence based knowledge but not science as an ultimate authority, then bringing up consensus among scientists about global warming is irrelevant. Right. I was too discombobulated to bring it up because we were talking about the pandemic, but we will need to explore this one in the future. You're not kidding and I'm not disagreeing with Dan. I think he's...

...right on he has this keen ability to see another side, one he may not agree with but that he respects. He respects people, even once we may look at as fringe, he's able to pull out the unspoken assumption we know what's best. Why? Because of science, we're pitting one God against another God instead of dialoging with people we may disagree with. And this unspoken assumption gets at an unconscious assumption that you might not even be aware of. So Dan suggestion on how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should have approached the Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn is outstanding. He's saying Cuomo should have started with we value you. We may not share your beliefs, but we want you in our community. Let's reason together, as scripture says. I've never heard anything like that being applied to the conflict between New York state and religious groups during the pandemic. Instead, it went all the way to the Supreme Court and when he lost, Cuomo mischaracterized the decision as political. I think Dan's approach is remarkable. Steve, you'd brought up a recent newspaper article and Dan asked, do you think the average reader the New York Times really value the people of that other community? It's an insightful question. I'm pretty sure they don't. Dan Doesn't think a lot of people spend much time meditating on how much value counterculture communities like the Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn bring to our society. Most people think that the kind of American culture that we have now is the only way it should be. He was raised Mennonite and as a unique perspective, we talked about liberty versus the common good. Dan says, we never reach a balance. It's an ongoing process. This is an important idea for a healthy political life. We have to recognize that this is an ongoing, dynamic one we are moving toward constantly. Dan Agrees that our society has gone way to the edge of individualism. This is something that you and I have talked about them these podcasts before. He noted that America in the S was way on the communal side and that people like Lenny Bruce challenged that and paid a price for it. It was a needed corrective at the time, but now we're way out on this edge where no one can tell anyone else what to do. Every person thinks that they're just in it for themselves and we need to start emphasizing the common good again. Now this one got me. Dan said that if there's such a thing as Christian Pol politics, it would look much more like anarchy than anything else. The Anarchists Vision of society is non violence, that we should govern ourselves by a network of voluntary associations. Have you ever heard that before? No. Now, when I thought about it for a little bit, I've heard things like that from anarchist but not that specific. So he contrasts this vision with the libertarian idea that government is not justified to do anything except defense and enforcement of contracts. But then Dan notes that those are the coercive ends of government, military on one side and police force on the other. I never looked at it that way. He asks if the common defense is something we owe each other, what does common defense even mean in a pandemic when the enemy is not a foreign invader but a virus? Yeah, dance, calling for a deep political discussion, not just throwing slogans at each other. He says we might come up with ideas that all of us could agree make sense. And then Dan ventured into the issue of abortion. He says it hinges on his ultimate question. What can we live with? What can we live with? We're never going to satisfy both sides completely. There has to be a comp wise it comes down not to what each side wants. They'll never be satisfied. It comes down to what both sides can live with. It's the same with contraception, although that's not as big a deal. Dan says we're looking for that place where most people can feel okay about it, not that they love the result, but that they can live with it. Yet Dan says, and I love this phrase, democracy in their hearts right. Dan says that people who have democracy in their...

...hearts are not looking to Lord it over everyone else. They're looking to respectfully find that territory in which we can all live together and feel good about each other. Dan ended the session talking about Ernest Becker's early works and how it related to what we're discussing. He said that the balance we talked about, the balance between what Becker called maximum individuality within maximum community, is a dynamic process understanding that helps mitigate the extreme pessimism about society that you find in Becker's later works. Yeah, it makes me want to read or reread angel and armor and the Revolution in Psychiatry. Did you ever read the structure of evil? I did read the structure of evil many, many moons ago and after hearing this Dan Talk, I'm going to go back and read reread the early stuff, Angel and armor in the Revolution in psychiatry. I have them all here. I haven't read them in a long while. I think what I'm going to do is I'm going to start with the structure of evil. Goes. I don't remember reading that one. I'm going to start there and work back. We definitely have some reading to do right. Maybe we'll ask Dan back to explain it to us. Yes, that would. Yeah, and maybe we could at that time crack open a cold one, as he put it. As he put it, yes, maybe we get a cliph notes too, but anyway about the cold one, I'd rather imbibe after we talk. You know, I'm a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and the like. As Dan says, a little lubrication never hurts. Words to live by. Good idea, Steve. Important ideas, a lot of important ideas again this time so so folks, join us next time. Like us on facebook. We're grateful for your encouragement. Please recommend us to your friends. You can find us at www for important ideascom and support us on Patreon. Wwwcom front the hub important ideas. We are one hundred percent listener. Support it and we are most grateful for your support. Thank you for listening to the hub for important ideas. I'm Steve James. I'm Ken Swain. STAY SAFE, everybody. Stay well.

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