Both ideology and idealism can blind us to reality. Ideologues maintain their beliefs, often in spite of facts to the contrary. Idealists maintain their beliefs, often in the face of insurmountable obstacles- hope springing eternal notwithstanding. Of the two, idealism has the greater value because it causes us to be open to new ideas and new frontiers. Ideology may generate steadfastness, but often at the expense of intractability when a change of course is called for.

Idealism is the fuel of change. But fuel alone does not move the train. That takes pragmatism. Ideology and idealism, unguided by pragmatism, get us nowhere. Neither the ideologue or the idealist has the luxury of expecting support without pragmatically being open to the realities that confront the achievement of their objectives. We have to seek common ground with others if we expect to gain the critical mass of acceptance needed for the achievement of our goals.

In our polarized nation too many have forgotten this need to seek common ground. Too many have forgotten the need to have a dialogue with those who have differing views. The focus of that dialogue must be on meeting the needs of all of the parties involved, not upon debating beliefs. As noted in America Adrift, addressing each others’ needs, rather than insisting upon acceptance of our beliefs, is the most productive course to follow in these polarized times.

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