Even the most secluded person cannot fail to have noticed that the United States is riven by two competing worldviews—one politically and culturally conservative and religiously bounded and the other socially progressive and largely “spiritual but not religious.” Each is defined endlessly in the media—which just feeds the divisiveness—so my need to do it here is hardly necessary.
An unintended consequence of the financial collapse has been a further intensification of this schism. The rise of the antipodal Tea Party and 99er-Occupy Movements attests to this. The rhetoric of their disunity is couched in the language of values, and it is a wrenching struggle.
Which challenges us to ask this question: If it is a fight over values, which values are best? Of course the critical word here isbest, so let me define what I mean by that. Best is the greatest state of social wellness beginning with the individual and growing to include our entire society, Earth, and all the beings who inhabit the planet. This is the transition we must make, reflected in every aspect of individual and social life. It’s not whether we have to make these changes but rather how much pain are we willing to endure before we make wellness our first priority? So this is a very important question.
Can we answer it in an objectively verifiable way? Can we avoid the mires of theological or ideological dispute? Can we know with surety which set of values produces greater social wellness? The answer: Yes, we can. And we can do it on the basis of data, with no reference to polemics, ideology, or theology. Just data. Does the conservative theocratic worldview of the right, or the more inclusive social progressive left produce better outcomes as defined by greater wellness? Thanks to a network of excellence, created through the meticulous work of hundreds of researchers, publishing thousands of studies, we can work out an answer in which we can repose significant confidence. And we should.
Publication History: explore.2011.12.009