The Way of the World, by Ron Suskind – Progressive Book Club
From the dawn of time, human beings have been attentive to signs of distinction — the approach of a tribe with a different manner or dress, posture or skin color. The swift sizing-up of friend or foe, and acting upon it — upon suspicion — was often a matter of survival. Those faculties became finely tuned over thousands of years. Now, in a world of vivid, colliding images and technology’s bequest of awesomely powerful weapons, we struggle to leap forward, to reshape instinct enough to reach across the divides of us and them, peak and valley. And to do it in time.
That shared effort is, at the very least, a starting point for a working definition of “hearts and minds struggle,” that smooth, slippery phrase on the lips of people across the world. Its definitions are often self-interested and oddly narrow, but they nearly always rest on a fundamental two-part question: Can disparate people ever truly understand one another, and is such understanding necessary for them to coexist? There’s considerable dispute over the matter. Some knowledgeable observers say that bringing diverse peoples together mostly serves to exacerbate distinctions and fuel divisiveness, something we can little afford in an era of such unleashed destructive capability. They point to countless bitter conflicts along borders, and within them, and recommend tall fences. Others contend that the world is steadily becoming borderless and blended, and that such conflict — the friction caused by the conjunction of opposites — must be endured, and mastered, on the way to discovering shared interest and common purpose.