Transcend ‘base nature’ for better


Thank you, Andrew Herman. You deserve an ”Orchid.”

I appreciated your thoughtful and well-written editorial in the Feb. 4 Tribune Chronicle. You have expressed truth that I have long believed. It is the ”in-group” in our social experience that narrows our perspective and results in much of our inability to see the ”reality” of those outside our group perspective. In other words, our group life tends to breed prejudices and stereotyping of all kinds, including racism.

I appreciate your pointing out that this is a factor we control. We can do something about our in-group bonding that breeds disunity and prejudice. As you note, we can ”deliberately teach it away,” and I might add, we need to first ”learn it away.”

In the book, ”Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart,” Christena Cleveland uncovers one of the in-group characteristics that separates us, the need for ”cognitive closure.” Cognitive closure is a need we all experience, more or less, to have definitive answers to the questions we ask. Unfortunately, this need often leads to a narrow, close-minded perspective that only fits our in-group.

As Cleveland notes, this results in the inability ”to imagine oneself in another person’s shoes, thinking from the other person’s point of view, envisioning oneself in the other person’s circumstances and feeling what the other person is feeling.”

Perhaps, as you note, if we work at it, we can transcend that ”base (inherent) nature” of cognitive closure ”for the benefit of all.” If we do, we will understand each other’s perspective more clearly and take one step toward more clearly expressing the agape (love) for one another that you express.

Ronald Baker