#blame #solutions #politics #DifferencesOfOpinion #CultureWar
“Most Americans could … be considered pragmatic moderates on the majority of political issues. While research (shows) some polarization has increases, it appears to have been exaggerated.”
So writes Gail Sahar, professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. An article, adapted from her book “Blame and Political Attitudes:The Psychology of America’s Culture War,” was published June 21, 2023, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Sahar believes that the basis for democracy assumes people can reason. When we underestimate the American public’s ability to rationally consider issues, we undermine our nation’s foundation, she writes.
“The current focus on blame has emerged as the missing link connecting ideology to attitude across a range of issues,” she writes.
In current political discourse, people not only want everyone to follow what THEY believe in, but also want to blame someone else when things go wrong.
To paraphrase the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. Congress would get more done if they cared less about who gets the credit. The converse is also true. If nothing gets done, the other guy is to blame.
This culture of blame, as Sahar calls it, may arouse strong feelings on both sides of an issue. But, we always find an excuse to blame the other guy. Therefore, nothing of consequence gets done.
What if we all, regardless of core beliefs, focused on what we can accomplish, instead of what points we can score against the other guy?
The result would be incremental action toward the common good. Incremental actions, when added up, can yield real accomplishments.
What would help this process is everyone agreeing on facts. When one side doesn’t get its way, it can tend to say the other side was wrong, or fraudulent, and can tend to invent its own set of facts.
Then, to emphasize the point, they keep spouting this set of “facts” as if it were true, thinking enough people will believe them.
In most instances, there is one truth. Anything to the contrary is, at best, “spin,” or, at worst, false. Once the actual truth is discerned, we can come closer to agreement on what to do, or not do.
Facts can certainly get in the way of a good narrative, or a good conspiracy theory. Although some in power fit the category of wanting to screw, or blame, the other guy, most people want to know the truth, find ways to apply that truth to the problems at hand and find solutions.
Complete solutions may be elusive on first pass. Therefore, incremental solutions tend to produce more agreement.
Most successful people believe in the phrase, “Go big, or go home.”
In today’s discourse, that may be a pipe dream. We will get more done amid differences of opinions and worldviews if we start small. Then, after a time, we can go on to the next small thing. The toe-in-the-water approach may seem pointless to some. But, it may be the best way to arbitrate differences and get to real solutions.
There are big differences of opinion in as diverse a country as ours. It’s difficult to celebrate differences. It may be better to acknowledge them, find points of agreement – or, at least, compromise – and move toward solutions.
The journey toward solutions may be long. But, those who are successful in whatever they do usually find the journey more worthwhile than the destination.


#fear #worry #thoughts #goals #IrrationalFear

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Or, to paraphrase a Mayo Clinic TV ad, when uncertainty hits, fear replaces thought.
Our thoughts are so cluttered with fear, worry, and stress, that we can’t focus on our goals,” writes Darius Foroux, in a Pocket Worthy article that advocates having a mantra to fight off worry.
Fear and worry are natural phenomena. Some politicians, in their messaging, use it to their advantage.
And, as Foroux writes, we spend lots of time worrying about things that will never happen.
It’s not to say we should fear nothing. But we tend to create fears and worries when bad circumstances befall us.
The best way, as Foroux points out, to combat worry is to have goals and focus on them.
That can be easier said than done, but it’s probably a good way to start to minimize fear and worries in our minds.
When someone we know or love goes on a trip, they often tell us to think good thoughts to make the trip safe and successful.
But, getting back to Foroux’s point, having a goal to focus on can often occupy our minds to the point that there is little, if any, room for worry and fear.
And, as the Mayo Clinic ad continues, answers, in the form of research, eliminate uncertainty, thereby eliminating fear and worry.
What the ad doesn’t say, but may imply, is whether those answers turn out as expected, or whether they ultimately lead to a breakthrough.
But if you focus your thoughts on your goals, you can create certainty when uncertainty tries to creep into your mind.
We all want to live a worry-free, fearless life. That may not be possible. But facing fear by focusing on goals can help mitigate it.
For example, if your goal is to be successful at your job, focus on doing what you need to do to make that happen, rather than focusing on what might happen to you if you fail.
It can be a tall ask for some people whose mind cannot help being fearful, because of a mental illness or deficiency.
Those folks may need professional help to overcome what they fear – often irrationally.
But those of sound mind can create thoughts that fill the mind so there is no room for fear or worry.
So, are you too often fearful or filled with worry? If so, what do you worry about? Is it something that may never, or is very unlikely to, happen?
What would make you so happy that you would become fearless or worry-free?
Can you acquire or achieve such happiness? What do you have to do to acquire or achieve it?
Happiness doesn’t always come quickly, naturally or promptly. It often requires us to do something that may not pay us off immediately, but will pay off over time with consistent action.
Fear and worry are much like foods for which we do not have a taste. Eating, or thinking, something more pleasant is the best solution.


#rudeness #anger #frustration #incivility #abuse
The sign said: “Attention! Our employees have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times. They should be able to do their jobs without being physically or verbally abused. Most people respect this. Thank you for being one of them.”
That sign was displayed at an office at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. Nedra Rhone, “Real Life” columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saw that sign at a routine medical appointment. She’d never seen such a sign before.
It prompted her to discuss general rudeness in a column published June 8, 2023. She quotes Christine Porath, who has studied incivility for more than 20 years.
“This kind of incivility leads to negative outcomes not only for workers who experience it directly, but also those who witness it – all of which harms businesses and society,” Rhone quotes Porath’s Harvard Business Review article.
Porath found that 76 percent of respondents in 25 industries across the globe say they’ve experienced incivility at least once a month. Those levels have risen since 2012, poking holes in the theory that the epidemic of rudeness started with the pandemic, Rhone writes.
Stress, negative emotions, isolation, technology and lack of self-awareness are the main drivers of widespread rudeness, Rhone quotes Porath.
The problem has many consequences beyond hurt feelings. Some of the front-line workers who experience this rudeness usually are not the most highly compensated. In a way, it makes them easy targets for the frustrated.
Often, these folks have no ability to ease the frustration. But as they experience the abuse, the employees are less likely to stay in those jobs for very long. It is just not worth it to them.
The frustration and anger at usually something small – Rhone sites a hair colorist lambasted by a client because she didn’t like the color that was chosen – can follow a frustrated person home. That means the frustration, without a stranger to whom to release it, can be felt by family and other loved ones.
Therefore, the frustrated person takes it out on someone at home who had nothing to do with the problem. Over time, that can lead to family dysfunction, divorce, broken friendships etc.
Such frustration can be taken into the political arena. When one or more people are angry and frustrated, it’s hard for them to agree on anything. So, little gets done.
In the same political arena, fear and anger can overpower optimism and looking to the future. People become focused on what they perceive has been done to them, rather than what can be done for them hereafter.
How does one become a less frustrated, nicer person? For many, it takes work. It takes being thoughtful before speaking or acting. It takes realizing that the person on whom you may be taking out your frustration cannot help you solve your problem.
There are indeed rational, civil ways to address grievances in most cases. Don’t become the person who is not happy unless he or she is miserable, fearful and angry.
Think about what is good in your life. Think about whether the energy you spend in anger is worth affecting your health, your well-being as a person and/or your relationships.
People can be, and have been, wronged by others or other things. If you feel compelled to express that anger outwardly, don’t choose targets that cannot help you solve your problem.
Those targets will disappear eventually, and you’ll be much worse off for THAT, rather than the original cause of your anger.


#choice #freedom #FreedomofChoice #limitations #DiversityofThought
Whoever thought that the concept of choice would be so misunderstood?
Freedom is a second concept that seems misconstrued in today’s world.
Those combine for the misconception of the term Freedom of Choice.
Let’s start with choice. A person walks into a store, is confronted with an array of choices, decides and buys.
That simple concept has evolved into a case of having an array of choices in life, none of which is ideal. That means one has to decide on the lesser of evils. Some may feel that way as they, say, walk into a voting booth. Just because no choice is ideal doesn’t mean we should not make a choice. By all means, go to the polls and vote!
We have to evaluate in our minds which choice would be, for lack of a better term, less bad.
In terms of voting, sometimes one must use his or her vote to help prevent the worst of choices from getting elected.
In short, our lives revolve around choices. There may not be such things as the BEST choices, but, chances are, if the majority of one’s choices are BETTER, the better one’s life will turn out.
Freedom is another matter. Often, those who talk a lot about freedom do not want any of us to be free at all. THEY want to be free to make the rules, but they expect us to follow THEIR rules.
As a corollary, complete freedom for EVERY individual would lead to community chaos. Therefore, freedom has, and must have, its limits.
As an example, one may want to paint his or her house bright purple. But, neighbors will find it an eyesore, affecting their property value. Therefore, Mr. or Ms. purple house need some sort of approval to paint.
Most of what we do, and decisions we make, affect others. Therefore, we are not completely free to do as we wish, in many instances. So, we must agree on limitations and abide by those agreements. It’s called compromise, which has become a dirty word among a few.
If absolute freedom and best choices are not available to us in practical terms, what exactly is Freedom of Choice?
Does the concept really exist? How do we reconcile confining choice and limiting freedom into what most would see as a good life?
It involves being free to choose one’s limitations. It involves coexisting in a community in which there are diverse ideas of limiting freedom and choosing better.
To quote a Rolling Stones lyric, “You can’t always get what you want. But, if you try, sometimes you get what you need.”
We live in a world of diverse ideas of freedom and choice. That’s not something to be feared. It’s something to be embraced.
We actually might not only learn from each other, but also might draw from others’ belief systems ideas that will improve our own.
We may not be free to choose everything. But we should be grateful that we are allowed to experience diversity of thought, lifestyle and ideas. We can all be better for that privilege.