The point you have in common with your bloody enemy

In today’s busy world, it is common for us to hear something and say to ourselves, “God, how can anyone have such an idea?” We encounter people whose beliefs make us angry, sad, or laugh, and we think we have nothing in common with them. However, in one of his studies, the famous American psychologist Jonathan Hayt came up with an interesting fact: Our beliefs, whatever they may be, ultimately lead to six core values ​​that are accepted by all human beings, but give them a different weight.

“Like many people, I hear from time to time that others are in favor of values ​​and beliefs that are inconsistent with my beliefs,” David Byrne wrote in the VernatDividad, according to ISNA. When I was younger, I did not understand this.

Many of these beliefs and biases were irrational to me. How can people believe such stupid things? But the more I read, traveled, and saw more people, the more I realized that values ​​and beliefs that may be foreign to me often hurt others. The benefit is sometimes just sharing these values ​​and beliefs with people who feel the same way. The same beliefs can create a sense of solidarity or give meaning to people’s lives. It is as if we humans have evolved in such a way that we need a factor for solidarity and unity. Sometimes this factor can be an interest in similar songs and movies, or even a belief in crying sculptures or space creatures. Well, be. Such beliefs may not be harmful.

I have realized that I, like others, may develop strange beliefs and, like them, come up with complex reasons to justify them. I also have a set of values ​​that I think are obvious and that everyone should accept. But if we are to reach a common ground and live together, the least we have to do is try to understand the attitudes of people who do not think like us.

A few years ago, social psychologist Jonathan Hayt, in his book The Honest Mind, stated that six fundamental moral values ​​and the importance of each to our individuality determine our behavior. I am not interested in discussing the innate or universal nature of these values ​​or to see if such values ​​are less than six or more, but I see them as really effective tools for understanding people who have a view other than my own. These tools help me not to feel superior and let me imagine what others think and why they believe what they believe; Because we really share many common values.

These values ​​(and their counterpoint) are as follows:

1. Care / Injury: We are all one family and we should be as kind to others as we can. Suffering should be eliminated, if possible.

۲. Fairness / Fraud: Society must strive to be fair. Justice must be the same for all. Shaking hands is better than oppression. On the other side of the coin, there are fraudsters and swindlers who must be punished.

3. Loyalty / Betrayal: Loyalty to family, community, group, business and nation is vital for any individual. This is the force that prevents collapse.

4. Authority / Subversion: Individuals must respect the law, whether they accept it or not. It is our collective agreement to follow the social and legal institutions that have made us a community.

5. Dignity / Insult: Chastity, moderation, restraint and gentleness sustain our world. Certain behaviors are immoral and should be avoided.

6. Freedom / Domination: As long as it does not harm others, people should be free to express themselves, think and behave.

I realized that to some extent I could value all six of these values. It seems that none of them are completely wrong. Of course, I also have my own lessons, and I value some of them more than others. This is the point.

People want to see some of these values ​​as superior to others, and which ones we value determines how we think, how we treat others, and how we perceive them. I am like that. You are like this. We are all like this.

According to you, the values ​​we put above them determine our place in the political spectrum (one of which is libertarian and the other conservative). While libertarians tend to emphasize care and fairness, conservatives tend to value loyalty, chastity, and authority to some extent (although, as Hight points out, neither group cares about fairness and fairness; Indeed, the point of difference between libertarians and conservatives is in loyalty, chastity and authority. So, for example, if I am someone who values ​​care and fairness, I would probably be in favor of laws that say that everyone, regardless of their personal beliefs, should treat homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people as equal citizens, but Those who have placed respect above care and fairness in their hierarchy of values ​​are more likely to feel that homosexuality is “abnormal” and “insulting” to respect, so the need for equality disappears.

As we have seen recently, some people believe that the rules for wearing a mask are detrimental to their individual freedom. They feel that their individual rights (freedom) take precedence over the rights of the larger community, while I place more value on cooperation and collective health (care). Not that I think it is wrong to be free and independent, but I think in certain circumstances, perhaps these values ​​should be set aside in the public interest. I may feel that in order to challenge unjust laws, they sometimes have to be broken (fairly).

Others will oppose and say, “Law is law” (authority). Many Americans believe that freedom of expression is an unconditional right (freedom), and if someone is hurt, hurt, or feels wronged for what I say, well, that’s the price of freedom. Usually, I also believe in this value, but I do not consider it an unconditional right; That is, in cases where the intention is to cause harm and violence, I think freedom of expression must be restrained (care and fairness). The point is, I care about all of these values.

This raises an important point. The fact that all our different beliefs are derived from these six values ​​does not mean that all of these beliefs are equally important, or even important at all. The supremacy of certain values ​​- such as sanctity, race or motherland, in the next example – may justify inhuman behavior. “The wickedness of the educated is not at all surprising, yet it is strange when we see how subtly they justify their seemingly justified and self-justifying reasons,” writes Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker about Joseph Mengele’s “Angel of Death.” “They build a logic that allows them to do such things so that they can look at themselves in the mirror with enthusiasm and congratulate themselves like a mantle in the morning and in the morning.”

My point is this; Behaviors that cause harm to others should not be forgiven or ignored; We just have to try to understand why they happen and the mechanisms used to justify them. “Understanding does not mean forgiving and ignoring,” said Hannah Arendt, when accused of justifying Nazi actions.

And what does all this tell us? It tells us that I may have some sort of disagreement with others on certain issues, but these disagreements are inevitably rooted in values ​​in which our participation is undeniable.

Our beliefs and policies may be very different, but again, by recognizing the values ​​behind these beliefs, I can, to some extent and in some cases, empathize with others and understand why their feelings differ from mine in some respects. This tool helps me not to judge others as illiterate or bad people and provides the starting point for a conversation.


This article was written by David Bayern and published on October 20, 2020 under the title “A Tool for Understanding” on the website of VarnatDivide. The translator’s website published it on December 26, 2016, with the title “What you have in common with your bloody enemy” and the translation of Arezoo Sahihi.

– David Byrne is the founder of Reasons to Be Happy and the founder of the Arbutus Foundation. Arbutus is a non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding the image of the world through both motivational and educational programs.

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