Friday, September 16, 2016

America's Mottoes Unite Liberal and Conservative Views of Hierarchy

I previously wrote about the finding that conservatives tend to see difference as hierarchical (better or worse), whereas liberals tend to see difference as equally valuable diversity.

I think the original motto of the United States starts from this more liberal view, then tends toward the  center.  E Pluribus Unum - Out of Many, One - starts from the great positive value of diversity.  It heads toward unity, true.  But it is not a unity of an imagined purity of the nation, but rather the hybrid vigor that comes from joining different, but equally valuable, components.

The new motto of the United States, by contrast, draws from a more hierarchical view.  In God We Trust names the most important thing.  It does not even name the alternatives.  They are not worth exploring.

The actual United States believes both.  At the human level, we are diverse and equally valuable in our origins.  At the transcendent level, we trust the one who really is hierarchically better - and Other - than the rest.

This unity, I believe, is a good centrist point.

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