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.