I just listened to an interview with the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt in which he was asked what his greatest fear was. It’s the same as my own. His reply was quite powerful, I thought. Here it is:
“What worries me most is that while almost all of our problems are solvable, I fear that we are not going to solve a lot of them because of our rising political polarization and rising distrust, all of which preceded social media but is now greatly amplified on social media.”
“So I do actually fear that the United States may end as a nation. That is, some time in the next 30 or 40 years, it’s at least conceivable that states will secede or that there will be a necessity of the military to come out and put down some unrest.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do think that democracy is difficult. Democracy, as the founding fathers knew, tends to commit suicide, and I think that unless we pay a lot more attention to what we are doing, I fear that our democracy could commit suicide.“
“So I think that understanding what’s happening to us, understanding rising political polarization, improving our political institutions to make them more trustworthy, less corrupt, is an urgent national mission.“
It is an urgent mission—perhaps the most urgent, because if we can’t overcome our own differences and work together, we won’t be able to solve any of the daunting problems we face.
Read more about Jonathan Haidt’s anti-tribalism projects here:
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