Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

A thought on a student’s response to the speech Bernie Sanders gave at Liberty University

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I blogged the response—the highly supportive response—from a Liberty University alumnus, but Politico has an article that includes the response of a currently enrolled Liberty University student:

David Nasser, Liberty’s senior vice president for spiritual development, asked an audience-based question about how Sanders reconciles his support for the underprivileged, while those in the womb are arguably in most need of protection.

If you watch Bernie’s speech, in the video below, you will note these words:

Let me be frank, as I said a moment ago. I understand that the issues of abortion and gay marriage are issues that you feel very strongly about. We disagree on those issues. I get that, but let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and in fact to the entire world, that maybe, just maybe, we do not disagree on and maybe, just maybe, we can try to work together to resolve them.

And he went on to list and describe some things—some unjust and immoral things—that are happening in the US, some unjust and immoral conditions. He in effect points out that this is one area of agreement between his values and the Christian values espoused by Liberty University, and that by working together in those areas, progress is possible.

But addressing areas of agreement and working together to address problems in those areas is, apparently, simply beyond the capability of (e.g.) David Nasser, who immediately moves away from the area of agreement to focus on an area of disagreement: abortion.

But Bernie clearly stated that he understands the Liberty University position on abortion, and that is something with which he disagrees. His focus is to be where he and Liberty University (should) agree. The student simply cannot grasp the idea of working together on situations about which they agree.

I wondered why, and it occurred to me that the student is speaking from a deep tribal sense of identity, in which the most important thing is to distinguish members of the tribe (“us”) from non-members of the tribe (“them”). In this way of thinking, disagreement is the paramount value and always the focus, because in this way of thinking the goal is not to accomplish good things in areas of agreement, it is to distinguish “us” from “them,” so the focus will always be on the distinguishing beliefs. Getting something accomplished is irrelevant. The only accomplishment worth seeking is to separate the sheep from the goats.

Here’s Bernie’s talk, and you can see how earnestly he seeks to find a common ground from which constructive programs can be launched.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 September 2015 at 11:20 am

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