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A Soft-Hearted, Hard-Minded Foreign Policy

Have you ever noticed how much of life is a balancing act?

In order to grow, we need to be gentle with ourselves, yet we must also follow a spiritual discipline;

Our children need us to show them unconditional love, yet at the same time they need us to set defined limits;

In business we must be as accommodating as possible to our clients, vendors, and employees, but not to the point where we erode our bottom line.

This kind of balance is especially needed in our foreign policy.

Balanced Foreign Policy

Trevor Thrall and Erik Goepner, writing for Reason.com, claim that we need to balance our hearts and our minds. Our foreign policy must harmonize our sensitivity with our practicality.

Thrall and Goepner suggest that what’s needed is a soft-hearted yet hard-minded approach:

The United States today faces an array of foreign policy issues begging for urgent attention, from Syria, Iraq, the Islamic State, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions to Ukraine, Russia, and the rise of China. All of these issues engage the balance between soft hearts, our concern for the well being of others, with hard minds, our desire to ensure that our policies are effective and realistic.

The authors focus specifically on the CIA torture report and the use of this tactic to gain essential intelligence about threats to our country.

They claim that a foreign policy that employs torture in this way combines hard hearts with soft minds – just the opposite of what we need. They also call for a greater level of national consensus in formulating a balanced policy.

In all truth, I do not consider myself sufficiently informed to comment on this report, or on the use of torture in general. I also am unclear on the extent to which the general population should be included in the military’s development of intelligence-gathering tactics. I think this is an area in which morality must guide foreign affairs and military campaigns; but a more comprehensive approach must be used, as opposed to trying to apply moral principles to specific circumstances.

Hard Mind / Soft Heart

In my own personal world as a life insurance salesman, the hard mind / soft heart dynamic is always at play.

The hard reality of life is that we could die today.

We can take extreme measures to promote health and wellness; nonetheless, there are too many circumstances beyond our control that can result in our unanticipated demise. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to buy all the life insurance needed right now in case our time comes much sooner than we think.

But we have created a cultural environment for ourselves in which we like to evade the truth, especially the threatening and imposing truths about life and death.

It is easier to dream about the riches we will have tomorrow, than to prepare for the final moment that could come today.

The challenge for the life insurance salesman is to be sensitive to our personal difficulties in facing the truth, and to guide our clients through a process in which they can embrace it and so do the right thing:

Buy the policy they need.