What keeps us from getting along with the members of other tribes? Is it the fact that we have fundamentally different values? Do we need to resolve our ethical differences once and for all before we can get along?
Without entirely dismissing the importance of different values, Wright argues that much conflict is rooted in our self-serving biases. Think about how fans of opposing sports teams, say the Red Sox and the Cardinals, can watch the same game and both come away thinking that the umpires were favouring the other side. Then there’s the study in which Israelis and Arabs viewed the same media coverage of the 1982 Beirut massacre, and the two groups both considered it biased, but in opposite directions.
“Do unto others 20% better than you would expect them to do unto you, to correct for subjective error,” said double Nobel laureate Linus Pauling (Chemistry and Peace). Easier said than done, of course, especially when it comes to those others who are members of other tribes. But less of a challenge than coming to perfect agreement on every last moral issue, and if it will promote peace, a challenge well worth meeting.