"Reforming public education, cutting property taxes, fixing adult and child protective services and funding our budget can all occur when Democrats and Republicans engage in consensus and cooperation – not cynicism and combat." – Gov. Rick Perry
I never thought I'd find myself quoting Gov. Perry, but it reflects the idea of The Middle Way, especially in this time of conflict and anger. There are many ideas that we can all agree upon and that we all hold sacred; ideas that should bond us, unite us, and cause us to realize that while we are individuals, we are also one people, and we should be working together to promote peace and prosperity, not for ourselves alone, but for all.
Finding consensus does not call upon us to abandon our values and our beliefs, but to see the issues as affecting more than just our own little world and working together to coexist. I observe with little humor the anger with zealots and terrorists in this world, finding it contradictory that our own leaders can't see that zealotry in their own positions. The unwillingness by many to consider alternative views on the world's problems are simply hypocritical. I have written many times before about the need for understanding, and even appreciation, of the culture of the adversary. This isn't a call for leaders to embrace the ideas of the opposition. It is a call for leaders to be willing to understand that their approach to solving the problems of today may not be the only approach, nor might that approach be what is best for society as a whole.
Understanding that our personal values are not exclusive to the needs of the many is an important step toward making grown-up decisions and not simply drawing a line in the sand and saying "I've got mine". Even when dealing with something that some people hold as unapproachable, like religious beliefs, must be qualified by realizing that at some point in our existence, perhaps before our own lives, but certainly in the history of Mankind, our own beliefs were likely considered heresy or blasphemy. We must realize that at some point, our beliefs were cause for persecution somewhere on this globe. And somehow, somewhere, we or our ancestors had to make hard decisions about standing for what was right and what was wrong, and learning how to live with others to continue forward. Learning how to live with others requires the decision to accept what we can and cannot change, and create equalibrium so we can tolerate that existence, or begin to find a way to create separation so that our existence is tolerable.
Unless you have all the power to force change in the hearts and minds of others (and you don't), you will have to understand that consensus and acceptance is necessary for peace. That understanding is required for both sides of every issue, unless the issue is incompatible with existence, such as at the point of a gun. In that case, you may see outward expressions of acceptance, but don't be surprised when the pot boils over later.
Understanding consensus is an important part of leading. If you can't help others to understand that and to bring them together on serious issues, and you continue to refuse any efforts toward working together, you can reassure your position to be under attack the moment you let your guard down. As any good tactician will point out for you, while you may not immediately have the resources to combat your opposition, when the center of gravity changes and the opportunity presents itself, to not attack is folly. So to be a leader who thinks that he was able to shove change down someone's throat and to not expect retaliation is to be entirely delusional.
If you really want peace and understanding, work toward those efforts and help to educate those who oppose you, while understanding their beliefs and appreciating those values as well. We may not always agree, but we can be respectful and we can work toward living together and sharing the things we do hold important together.