On January 6, 1941, President Roosevelt outlined why our nation had an obligation to oppose exploitation and oppression around the world. He articulated the values of our democracy and called them The Four Freedoms.

* Freedom of speech and assembly
* Freedom of worship
* Freedom from fear
* Freedom from want

Within a year America was in WWII. Throughout the war, Americans invoked The Four Freedoms as the reason we fought and the reason we opposed tyrants. Artist Normal Rockwell produced a painting illustrating each freedom. The one headlined “Save Freedom of Speech” showed a man standing up to speak at a public meeting.

After the war Americans spoke less and less of The Four Freedoms. You hardly hear or read a mention of them today. The Four Freedoms could remind us of what we agree on.

The Media Today

Social media is organized based on addictive psychology. Dramatic clashes receive higher ratings than civil discussion. Spin doctors scoring points with zingers get more airtime, while rational, polite debaters are not invited back.

Both our major parties have fired most of their moderates. Many people act as if political compromise was treason instead of a sign of maturity. Too many of our fellow citizens have a tendency toward all or nothing thinking.

We have confused fellow citizens holding alternate tax policy preferences with traitors. We ignore horrid behavior among people from our tribe. Too many of us seem to want almost perfection, as our side defines prefect. We will tolerate an almost intolerable mess until our aspirations are met.

We Can Do Better

Good people will disagree on important matters. We should consider issues beyond social media likes and the hypocrisies of the other party.  Our news and social media devote a lot of attention to hot button issues like

* Under what conditions should state sanction stopping a beating heart?
* How much national treasure should go to offset the suffering people who entered US illegally?

These issues matter. But are they the only issues that will define our generation? Could we be missing more important topics?

We need to broaden and civilize our discussion of issues. Unless we can come together and discuss important matters, nothing important will get done.

Remember The Four Freedoms

The Four Freedoms remind us of the values we agree on. The person who disagrees with you on one issue, probably shares your commitment to The Four Freedoms. They can help you work productively when you disagree.

What other ways have you discovered that help you work with people you disagree with?

What issues should claim our time and attention?


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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