Jonathan Haidt: Shared Fear Can Bridge Ideological Differences
"When we focus only on the one asteroid that most frightens us, we feel anger at the partisans on the other side, " he explains. "We curse their blindness without recognizing our own." But, he adds, "if we can look up into the sky and see a whole fleet of asteroids heading for us, we lose our tunnel vision and experience a healthy form of panic." It is this panic—this fear of a common threat—that binds the nation together in a positive way, Haidt argues. When we realize that there are things that affect the country as a whole and threaten our stability if not addressed, partisanship can be forgone in favor of fighting a common enemy. "We’re in big trouble," Haidt writes, "and anyone who does that hyperpartisan stuff now should be ashamed—or kicked out of office." In his speeches, Haidt often addresses the effects that our political and ideological divisions have on human nature. These rigid divides are caused by different understandings of morality, he says, and understanding why we are divided—and how we can benefit from coming together—will ultimately lead to a more prosperous, cooperative future.