When I think about a decision, particularly one of grave historical, far-reaching consequence, like nation-formation, I wonder: What makes it good? Not “the judgment of history,” which, by definition, comes later, but rather at the moment of deciding?
I’m not sure, but one thing seems clear. A decision’s virtue does not, cannot rest in the often hoped for, yet elusive ideal of unanimity. The colonists were not of one mind. Local and regional self-interest quashed any hope of absolute agreement. And today, concerning a host of issues, America is a divided nation.
If not unanimity, then I’ll make a case for consensus; making a decision about which all may not agree, but all can support. Consensus-building, a toilsome, even tedious process, calls on all to speak with clarity and to listen with charity; the cardinal virtues, I believe, of all communication.
Today, I am troubled terribly by what I perceive to be a lack of such dialogue in our national public square. Partisan voices hold sway with rising, ever greater influence o’er the past generation. Divisions are hardened. Distinctions sharpened. Life’s multiple muted shades of gray are painted over in black and white colors, making difficult, well-nigh impossible the recognition of nuance and the appreciation for ambiguity…