Ideology and belief are dividing us as a nation and diverting us from a focus on addressing our critical needs as a country. We compound the problem with labels, such as liberal and conservative, leftist and right winger, that prejudge complex people and ideas. Such labels cut off dialogue and understanding before it can even start.

Beliefs provide order to our lives, explaining the world as we interpret it. Underlying our beliefs are needs; needs for security, reassurance, self-esteem, and even happiness. Where our security and sense of self are involved the beliefs can be quite strong.

While beliefs may aid us in coping with our lives, they can come into conflict with the differing beliefs of others. These conflicts are seldom, if ever, reconcilable. And that is where we find much of our inability to find common ground in solving our nation’s problems. We get caught up in arguments about whose belief is superior or correct, rather than trying to accommodate each other’s underlying needs. Needs can usually be accommodated in a win-win situation while beliefs rarely are.

It’s time to abandon beliefs as a basis for discussion. We ought to turn instead to a focus on resolving our needs with a view towards our greatest need; the future of our country.

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