Traditionalist Have an Advantage: Bridging the Cultural Divide, pt. 11

This is the eleventh first 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 #7: Traditionalists Have an Advantage, pt. 2

11.1 DurkheimDurkheim claims that sacredness is about society and its collective concerns. If he is right then Democrats must find a way to incorporate the sacred into their messages that goes beyond the use of words like “God” and “faith.” It is hard to portray a Whole Foods store as sacred, but featuring nature as sacred is an obvious and worthy choice. Democrats could close the sacredness gap if they get beyond the idea of society as Weird.

Instead of just a collection of individuals each with an array of rights, progressives could demonstrate that the whole of humanity is in need of care and compassion. Haidt notes, “Our national motto is e pluribus unum (‘from many, one’). Whenever Democrats support policies that weaken the integrity and identity of the collective (such as multiculturalism, bilingualism, and immigration), they show that they care more about pluribus than unum. They widen the sacredness gap.” When 11.2 plurbus unumRepublicans say that Democrats “just don’t get it,” this is the “it” to which they refer.

Democrats often try to explain away conservative positions on guns, god, and immigration by using pop psychology, which often alienates conservatives and progressives earn the elitist label. But conservative ideas need to be understood as ways to achieve one kind of morally ordered society. Haidt questions, “how can Democrats learn to see—let alone respect—a moral order they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb?” Perhaps lessons from Durkheim can help progressives understand the traditionalists’ wide range of moral foundations.

11.3 moral foundationsBringing in the three moral foundations advanced by Durkheim—loyalty, authority, and sanctity—means that the traditionalists have an expanded moral range. Progressives need to be aware of these advantages when advancing policies and trying to win elections. In fact, it might be worthwhile for progressives to expand their moral range without betraying their principles. They might be able to improve their policies by incorporating and praising some traditionalists’ insights.

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.

Dr. Ames is now developing a program called Turn—transformative understanding and reflection network—that encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, shift perspectives, and understand the balance in all things. She teaches classes and writes about cross-cultural awareness, indigenous wisdom, a transformative worldview, learning from the past, a mythic journey, and transforming travel.

04.4 DividedDivided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

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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