December 18, 2013

Greg Kesich: Which side are you on? Our tribal past still dictates our views

The toughest issues make us examine our gut reactions and built-in biases.

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What looked like political gamesmanship to the other side was really something much more fundamental.

At the bottom of every disputed issue was “a fierce conflict between our most important values, to wit, individualism and community,” Allen wrote. “What should we do together and what should we do on our own?”

That doesn’t leave much middle ground to find. If you think redistributive taxes punish hard workers and make the poor lazy, how much punishment would be fair? And if you believe that it is a crime for the richest country in the world to let people suffer in poverty, how much suffering is acceptable?

Fortunately, we are not stuck with our tribal morals, what Greene calls the “automatic mode.”

We have the ability to slow down and use reason. We can question our own gut reactions and biases. Even if we recognize that we have differences that can’t be resolved, we are capable of building on the things we share.

For instance, everybody who’s gotten this far in this column would have jumped in the pond to save that girl. Maybe that’s a good place to start.


Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at 791-6481 or at

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