Due to the growing stridency, distance, extremism, and animosity between right/conservative/Republican (“red”) and left/liberal/Democratic (“blue”) proponents, the center (“purple”?) is a location progressively shared less and less in America. To describe the red’s fixed position, I borrow authors Alexander Betts’ and Paul Collier’s phrase “heartless head”; and to describe the blue’s, I borrow their phrase “headless heart”. Journalist James Traub seems to advocate synthesizing these otherwise incompatible mindsets when he suggests reasoning with our hearts and feeling with our heads.
The pure tone of the truth is the center, and it’s the only credible place for us, as a bifurcated society, to engage. I’m suggesting that each of us recognize it as a problem and then do our best to rise above it by avoiding the extremes promoted by our side while adhering to this five centuries old advice: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity (translated from the Latin original).” No matter how much or how many of our predilections have to be shed to get there, the cost of doing so is incontestably worthwhile for crafting the healthy environment so needed by our individual souls and the larger community spirit.
We previously faced a similar deep ideological chasm as a nation after the Civil War. The signing of treaties and cessation of fighting did not automatically heal hearts and unite minds. A national rapprochement was called for by inspirational leaders like Lincoln and Grant; the same call is necessary today and it can only come from leaders who rise above us and me petty politics and selfishness.