Thought for the Day: Moral Change?
“I am comforted and buoyed by the insights of the philosopher Anthony Appiah, who has studied how moral evolution happens across history and the world – how deeply rooted practices deemed not merely right but honorable thought can shift relatively quickly,” says Krista Tippet in her recent book, Becoming Wise.
“In his family as well as his scholarship, he’s experienced one of these recurring places in human life where within one generation, we look back at something that seemed normal forever and ask, ‘What were we thinking?’ ‘How could we have lived that way?’ Appiah studied how foot binding ended in China, how dueling ceased to be the way for honorable gentlemen to settle disputes, how slavery was abolished as a fundament of the British Empire. As he tells it, change begins to happen slowly in the human heart over time. Only then do the movements and leaders come along and topple the structures. . . .
For all his erudition, Anthony Appiah’s prescriptions . . . are refreshingly simple. He talks about ‘sidling up’ to difference, not attacking it with a solution-based approach as Americans are wont to attack what they see as problems. The way to set moral change in motion is not to go for the jugular, or even for dialogue – straight to the things that divide you. Talk about sports. Talk about the weather. Talk about your children. Make a human connection. Change comes about in part, as he describes it, by way of ‘conversation in the old sense’ – simple association, habits of coexistence, seeking familiarity round mundane human qualities of who we are” (p. 133-135).
Just for today, have a conversation about ordinary things with someone who seems somehow different than you are.
Anthony Appiah’s photo from his webpage: http://appiah.net/