Morality Binds and Blinds: Bridging the Cultural Divide, pt. 6

This is the sixth of an 18-part series that explores our deep cultural divide and offers 10 suggestions about how we can contribute to bridging the divide.

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

Suggestion #3: Morality Binds and Blinds

Morality binds and blinds. As we saw in Suggestion #2, Intuition, Not Reason, Drives Moral Judgments, moral arguments rarely change people’s minds. Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind points out, “This is not just something that happens to people on the06.1 morality binds and blinds other side. We all get sucked into tribal moral communities. We think the other side is blind to truth, reason, science, and common sense, but in fact everyone goes blind when talking about what they hold sacred.”

Both liberals and conservatives are convinced they are trying to do the right thing, but their beliefs prevent them from recognizing the other side’s good will. Usually we think the other side has ulterior motives, but usually this is an error.

Haidt suggests that if you “really want to open your mind, open your heart first. If you 06.2 friendly conversationcan have at least one friendly interaction with a member of the other group, you’ll find it far easier to listen to what they’re saying, and maybe even see a controversial issue in a new light.” That is the way the moral mind works. But to the extent arguments do work, they have to reach the emotions first.

About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

01.2 DeniseDr. Ames’ varied life experiences—scholarly research, teaching, reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development trainings, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, developing globally-focused books and educational resources. She has written seven books, blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units for the non-profit and clients.


DivCover-dsDivided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released! $14.95

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.

Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books  


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