UMD Reads The Righteous Mind

A blog for and about the 2013 UMD First Year Book Project

Imagine and then Reimagine

In Chapter 12 “Can’t We All Just Disagree Constructively” when comparing a conservative and a liberal’s grander outlook, Haidt pokes holes in liberal idealism, in particular the “dream” of one unified people without exclusion of any kind.  Haidt uses the song, “Imagine”, by John Lennon to represent what might be a liberal dream but a conservative hell.  In the song, a world without religion and countries would conclude with a world that lives as one.  Is this a realistic or even desired outcome?  Would there be unintended consequences in getting rid of all boundaries and differences?  One particular lyric that stands out to me is when Lennon identifies himself as a dreamer.  What would happen to the non-dreamers in this utopia?  Would they be excluded for not dreaming?

Haidt doesn’t seem too sure about this utopia either.  He goes on to discuss the need for some healthy balance, for example the yin and yang (conservatives and liberals) in politics and constructive grouping.  On 359 he states, “We need groups, we love groups, and we develop our virtues in groups even though those groups necessarily exclude nonmembers.”  This made me think of groups on campus.  For example, is a group that celebrates a certain culture, along with their unique traditions and differences, bad because by nature a group is exclusive?

Of course, “Imagine” is just a song and when Rodney King asked why we all couldn’t get along, he was reacting to a horrific personal and national bout of violence.  He most likely meant, why can’t we not beat and kill each other, rather than commenting on constructive disagreement.  However, this section really makes one reexamine their ideals and whether disagreement, in a more constructive form, will always be needed to maintain balance.


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105 thoughts on “Imagine and then Reimagine

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  1. Joe Lam on said:

    First things first is that i love the fact of Yin Yang, the thoughts of Balance. A world without balance is just boring or unfair. If we live in a world where everyone’s nice, and there’s no politics or religion, it just seems boring. Its like saying we live in a world without competitions, rivalry, or conflicts. How exactly can we feel thrilled, excited, or happy?

  2. Amanda Leeland on said:

    I believe that everyone has there own differences for a reason. This makes us unique compared to others, so having all the same religion and believes would be hard to do. People will always have at least one difference or thought that others will disagree with making this near impossable for everyone to have the same agreements. I think being a non dreamer will make you not feel like you need some place in society, but with a dream you have something to work for and feel apart of everyone around you. Even if they don’t have a dream yet, they wll not be excluded but just need to explore what they want to do in soceity.

  3. Matt Vidal on said:

    In my opinion a world where everyone is the same would not be good. People succeed on our diversity. If everyone was the same then how could we function as a society? I wouldn’t like the idea because I like the uniqueness that all sorts of people have.

  4. Kenny Albano on said:

    I always use to think that groups were bad by their very nature of separating and differentiating members of a group from everyone else. However, I have been reexamining my views in lieu of the information presented in this book. What I wonder is can we have it both ways? Can we have a group or groups without excluding anybody? I believe we can; we just need a common enemy like the aliens in all those sci-fi movies and books that sometimes lead to the entire human race ganging together for a common cause to save the planet. I believe this common enemy does not necessarily need to be an alien life form, nor does it need to be dangerous, in fact I don’t think it even needs to be real. I believe any perceived threat whether grounded in reality or propagated by propaganda is enough to get a group started. Furthermore I believe if said threat where perceived to be global and endanger all human life, then it may be possible to get the whole of the human race to be part of one group. Some possibilities I have thought of are; global warming, the destruction of the environment/rainforests/coral reefs/etc. , a global crime scare followed by a war on crime, or a global war on terrorism. I would like to know if anyone else has thought of this or any similar ideas and what they think of the prospects of such an idea as I am suggesting.

  5. First and foremost I could hands down agree with most of the responses written here. A world without its differences would be by far the worst thing. We wouldn’t be able to function as a whole and not to mention the word unique would mean absolutely nothing. And how Joe mentioned a life without rivalry or competition would lead to indiviuals never experiencing the feeling of pride and successfulness.

  6. Michelle Torto on said:

    This chapter was one of a few that stuck to me the most. The title intrigued me from the beginning because I think that sometimes when people hear the words, “differences” or “disagree”, there is a negative connotation that is perceived and two people cannot disagree in a calm and civilized fashion. I definitely agree with Haidt’s ideas and I think there should be differences in the world and in people, otherwise, change and development would be an uncommon occurrence. We cannot control our differences. How we go about our differences, however, is up to us. I think one can definitely agree to disagree with another individual in a constructive manner, rather than getting worked up and defensive about a topic.

  7. keith grenier on said:

    even though a world with no countries and a single unified race sounds good to most of us. in reality this difference is what makes businesses and the global economies running, changing and constantly evolving. if everything was the same and “Utopian” then nothing would change and everyone would be stuck in the same day to day life. plus no countries or provinces would make identification and individualism very hard. and mail would never reach the right person.

  8. Aisling Steel on said:

    I think different is good. Different is what keeps up human progression. I too believe that everyone having differences is good. It would be really different, and boring, if we were all the same. Yes, some people don’t have it as good as others in life, but we’re all different for a reason. We all have a part in this world. I think everyone should accept each others differences and agree to disagree. If we realize that fighting and killing each other isn’t going to change anything except create enemies, then we can save time, money, and lives, communicating in a healthy way so that compromises can be made.

  9. Peter Cakounes on said:

    While our common interest may bond people together, our differences don’t make us enemies, they make us individuals. The opposition of views creates a sense of need for validation of our views. Naturally as people we will always “bond” to others with similar views, yet we seek to “argue” or “debate” about our views with those who oppose them in order to try to persuade them that our own views are correct. In this process there is a yin and yang effect, especially if you are successful in your attempt of persuasion and convince the opposed to see your view as the right view, in which now they may join the “group” containing that view(s). Therefore a utopian society is not possible if this is human nature.

  10. Deborah Salami on said:

    A world with out religion and politics is not possible or realistic. In order for there to be a world it is essential that both be of existence . We live in a world where our foundation is composed of politics and religion . The idea of living in a Utopian society may sound good at first but there will always be an individual who rebels and chooses not to be of conformity . I agree with the previous post where “The Giver”is used as an example.

  11. Jeremy Duval on said:

    I agree with what most people have been posting here: that we need diversity in our beliefs. The idea of a world where everyone agrees seems appealing at first glance, but after thinking about it, it seems silly to me. If nobody ever had any complaints, things might never change. There would be no reason to improve anything. It seems like everything would sort of stagnate, and that doesn’t sound like fun.

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