An Unpopular Idea: Wisdom Is Where You Least Expect To Find It (Or Why Conservatives Need Liberals & Liberals Need Conservatives)

The following quote is from Jonathan Haidt’s book The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth In Ancient Wisdom:

My research confirms the common perception that liberals are experts in thinking about issues of victimization, equality, autonomy, and the rights of individuals, particularly those of minorities and nonconformists. Conservatives, on the other hand, are experts in thinking about loyalty to the group, respect for authority and tradition, and sacredness.

When one side overwhelms the other, the results are likely to be ugly.

A society without liberals would be harsh and oppressive to many individuals. A society without conservatives would lose many of the social structures and constraints that… are so valuable. Anomie (lack of the usual social or ethical standards) would increase along with freedom.

A good place to look for wisdom, therefore, is where you least expect to find it: in the minds of your opponents.

You already know the ideas common on your own side. If you can take off the blinders… you might see some good ideas for the first time.


I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

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