Politics


I have long observed, since my formative years living overseas in fact, that a driving force in US society is its uncanny ability to sell and market, with an emphasis on marketing.  I see it as a fundamental driver of our consumer based economy.  The purpose of marketing is to get us to buy, and the industry has long figured out how to manipulate us into doing just that.  Problem is, this capacity has also long since permeated well beyond advertising into, among many areas it might not belong, politics.

Marketing could be seen as notorious for tapping into our belief systems and our emotions in order to do its job.  The problem I see is that those, and there are many, unaware of this, become and/or remain malleable.  Couple this with the fact that we, as a society, are generally inept at managing emotion because it is just so uncomfortable to address, especially in professional life, and we have a foundation for emotionally hijacking great swathes of the US population.  Despite a discomfort with emotion, or perhaps because of it, we love to be emotionally involved.  We crave passion for what we do, due, I would argue, to being trained to buy or pay attention to what others are selling.

There is a reason we deem people in an emotional state irrational.  Emotion, despite our discomfort and its greater value than we give it, can and does cloud our judgment.  We get caught up in the romance of feeling passion for a political candidate.  It’s a version of falling in love, really, to feel the chemistry of connection.  But if we check ourselves, we realize that we eventually have to live with the reality, the rational version of that relationship.  Now, if the candidate, much as a lover, has both charisma and stability, that really is the preferable option.  But love, and hatred for that matter, are blind and emotional attachment or disenchantment can have us overlook, or even avoid looking, at a whole candidate.

In the recent national election, the emotional connection and disenchantment were highly evident.  Those who fell in love with Bernie Sanders were devastated at the loss of their emotionally connecting candidate, and left with over-rational Hillary Clinton or emotionally volatile Donald Trump so driven to the rebound option of a third choice.  There were many more factors at play, of course, like identification by way of similar beliefs, but, as mentioned, tapping into our belief systems is another marketing ploy used on us on a regular basis, so ditto the effect.

There are those who will remain enamored with Trump and continue to overlook his instability.  And there are those who are not enraptured by him who simply didn’t or couldn’t align with Hillary’s version of stability.  But just as in relationships of all kinds, we must come to terms with the fact that not one of us is perfect or ever a perfect fit, and so it goes with political candidates.  In light of the options, it may behoove us to forego our passion and disenchantment for simply making the best rational decision.

A Fish Doesn’t Know It’s in Water is attributed to David Foster Wallace, and is most likely a play on the Chinese proverb If you want a definition of water, don’t ask a fish.  What it means is that we can rarely see – objectively, at least – that of which we are a part, for example, ourselves, our families, our communities, where we work, our society, especially what we would rather not see about any of these.  Our beliefs about ourselves and that of which we are a part are incredibly potent, and it is important to note that beliefs seek reinforcement and so are reinforce-able, by way of simply learning that others believe in a similar way or being presented with even false evidence of what fits with what we believe.  Our beliefs will hold sway even in the face of reality that contradicts it.  This is known as cognitive dissonance.  I have noticed that we often react with negative emotion to reality presented that threatens to distort or nullify belief, while we react with positive emotion to that which bolsters existing belief.

Now, please don’t get me wrong.  Emotion is full of information to which we need to be giving our attention.  The problem is that emotion is messy and difficult to understand, so in US society in particular, and in our organizations especially, we have taken to ignoring its worth and as a result, our ability to work with it, to hear what it is trying to tell us.  As a result, we remain vulnerable to being manipulated by emotion in reaction to single source sound bites and quippy memes that support our beliefs, whether based in reality or not.

So what can we do?  Well, we can start by simply asking ourselves the question, what is true?  Then, take time to check our sources.  Is it a source we prefer because it makes us feel right?  Does the source provide a variety of viewpoints or only one, one we already accept as true?  Acknowledging another viewpoint does not require us to believe that viewpoint, but it should at very least pique our curiosity to ask, what is true?  If something we read or hear supports existing belief to the point of an emotional response, like “yeah, that’s right!”, it might just be too good to be true.

 

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” ― Heraclitus

With great change, the likes of which the world is and has been experiencing, comes great nostalgia for what was. It can be a sense of loss enough to trigger the grieving process – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The grief is evident on a social scale. We see it in the rise of nationalism, isolationism and authoritarianism across countries, in the resistance to immigration and integration.

It’s too bad that change has come so quickly that many haven’t had the chance to catch their breath, to build the necessary resilience. I am more than hopeful that the change occurring is making us better. Younger generations sense this. Older generations want what was, and cannot fathom a world, that they seem also resistant to accept, they helped create.

To those who work with change, this is all standard protocol. Those who work in change management consistently struggle to bestow leaders with the understanding that bringing people along matters, and in this our national leadership, across the board, has failed. Yet, in the observation that the change has happened on a scale and at a speed never before encountered, how can anyone be to blame?

No. We must all take up our share of the responsibility for making the transition, or at least stay out of the way of those prepared to do so.

Fascinating read: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/a-dialogue-with-a-22-year-old-donald-trump-supporter/484232/.  Kudos to this dialogue occurring and to its publication.  We could certainly use much more of it.

I say kudos, because I have long held that the PC movement has caused more harm than good in that it has driven underground  this kind of critical dialogue. I am also intrigued at yet another revelation that the left disregarding the views of our fellow citizens on the right as “less than” has helped to create a divide unhealthy to American society.  Now, it is not lost on me that there are those who have purposely influenced a creation of ignorance to be exploited, so perhaps we could treat the situation more appropriately by acknowledging the requisite disenfranchisement that now exists?

Another observation brought to mind by this article is that men have long enjoyed dominant status in American society, and in any number of other societies around the globe. There is currently underway a global challenge to patriarchy. Some countries have made progress on what I witness to be a leveling off to a more egalitarian community. As the US traverses this process, males are undoubtedly experiencing a loss of status, and especially white men. The change is already in process, and those resistant perhaps see in Trump an uber-caricature of (white) male dominance they simply crave to save, and keep in mind this is most likely a subconscious reaction. Bias is not often in awareness, which is why it can be so potent.

It might also be debated that the decades long scrutiny of the Clintons, especially Hillary, plays into this as well.  Obama basically came out of the blue, so without Hillary’s requisite “baggage” from her longer term exposure to the existing elements, as a representative of minorities in American society.  Is the vitriolic reaction to a minority president not obvious by now?  And here comes, has been coming, a dominating female challenger (note that a black man usurped her long anticipated rise) to male dominance.  Is it possible the decades long scrutiny of her has been a subconscious effort to make her take her submissive place in patriarchal society?

The question becomes, how do the rest of us assist the transition? Help men see that they are simply experiencing what pretty much the rest of society has dealt with under their dominance? It must be an extremely sobering event for them, and let’s face it, it is not human nature to swallow pride so easily. Nope, that’s as vulnerable a position as apologizing.

Be well.  Be kind.  Bring compassion.

~ Jacqueline, Scholar-Practitioner of Human Systems

Maybe it has occurred to you already? That the partisan state of politics is what has stagnated our country in so many ways at the state and federal levels? We have come to a standoff with each other, no longer a country united, but a country divided, and “a house divided cannot stand.” Right?

Historically, it has been times of trouble that have brought the country together. We have gone to war together, and rightly so, when it was truly necessary, but that doesn’t seem as clear to us anymore. Can going to war be a sustainable purpose? I think not. Though we are much more aware and even connected to major conflict around the world, over the centuries and even decades, the number of major conflicts has diminished. We are now dealing with late bloomers and fringes, for all intents and purposes. So, no, war will not sustain us, and especially that of our own instigation outside our borders.

The big question in my mind is, what are the common vision, mission and values we can rally toward as a country that do not speak to destruction but to a brighter evolution for us?

Is it possible for us to break away from pundits and partisan politics to really sit down together and truly communicate to discover what is truly our common good? Can we stop interpreting our past into partisan beliefs to discover who we are and what we truly stand for in the 21st century?

Without a way for us all to look forward in one direction, I fear we are bound to keep traveling in circles, going anywhere but where we might all want to go.

  • The first step is to get away from our rhetoric of accusations – this is obvious in all media, news and social especially.
  • The second is to share our perspectives and interpretations respectfully and truthfully – which may require some personal reflection and introspection, because we all too often spout off what we hear that seems to match what we think we believe.
  • The third is to listen.  Listen with open minds, and yes, hearts, too, to what our fellow citizens are trying to share with us.

If we could each, as individuals, do more to hear each other out and seek to understand, I don’t know the exact outcome, but I am fairly certain that it will be a far sight better than the state we are in now.

No doubt, many sense that not is all right with our society. What some do not seem to realize is a wave of civil terrorism afoot, and not by those we are being led to believe through “hitleresque” propaganda and fear mongering. Do we really think the likes of the KKK and Skin Heads have simply gone away? It is my observation that no, they have simply made their way into religion and politics, continuing to drive an agenda of hatred, preying on existing fears that all is not right with the world, seeking their sense of entitlement to supreme power.

The tyranny our forefathers saw to obstruct by creating a constitutional republic was not, in fact, that of government but of the existing governing body, a ruling class of royalty – a class of the financially and power entitled. Our forefathers sought, with the constitution and the formation of a democratic republic, to obstruct the ability of tyranny against the individual by any organized power. They sought to build a governing body elected and thereby in essence ruled by the citizenry of this great country. Our constitutional government has, over its mere two centuries, existed to preserve the rights of the individual, and still seeks to do so for the most part, but in more recent decades has been slowly infiltrated by the likes of civil terrorists, often in the name of religion, looking to undo the rights of the individual so that their agenda of entitlement to superiority might be driven.

So, in this effort, the likes of the KKK and Skin Heads have joined ranks with what is too quickly becoming a ruling oligarchy, preying on our fears with rhetoric of a tyrannical government when in truth it is their ruling class form of tyranny they espouse and pursue. Have we not all heard the phrases, “takes one to know one” and “the pot calling the kettle black”? We left a ruling class of elitist royalty but have now entered an era of an elitist oligarchy supported by an elitist army of white supremacists. This, too, unfortunately, is an historical part of our founding, given the machine of slavery for which our forefathers and this country are infamous, yet perhaps too forgiven.

Why else does our education system continue to lag the rest of the free world? Perhaps to enable a tyrannical class to infiltrate and upend the very system our forefathers put into place to avoid, that this would-be ruling class would have us believe is the very problem. And perhaps it is indeed becoming so?  It has been a slow coup, and many probably haven’t even realized their part in it. It can be seen in the erosion of politics as a short term service to the populace into a long term career opportunity; in the gerrymandering of voting districts to remain in power; in the likes of Citizens United – which is, I would hope obvious by now – a uniting of the ruling oligarchy and supremacists by making ownership of business representative of those they employ. Really? Do we really think that everyone in an organization would knowingly support the wishes of an entitled would-be ruling class? Well, we do. Our fear is great enough, and they are wily enough to convince us to do so, because in truth, it is simply human nature at work. They may not, excepting a few, even recognize themselves as the civil terrorists they are. Power simply has an unruly effect, and when the same had already been hiding out in the name of religion, our sensibilities on that front had been eroded, except where – in our primary case – Christ’s own anti-tyranny message has gotten through despite best efforts otherwise.

No question, a business must maintain a profit to remain in business.  I question, however, the concept that making a profit is the purpose of business.  For me, the purpose of business is to serve its community, both internally – those who serve the purpose of the business – and externally –  whether local, national or global.   The sustainability of a business is dependent upon whether it continues to serve a purpose to that community.

In my own work experience, I have witnessed businesses lose balance and topple because they lose sight of their purpose, favoring investors (or the proverbial shareholder) over the internal and/or external community (otherwise known as stakeholders).  Likewise, I have seen businesses prosper because they keep sight of all stakeholders even in the face of investor scrutiny.

In this discussion hosted by American Public Media and the BBC – http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/marketplace-live/marketplace-live-what-difference-four-years-does-not-make – two themes arise:  1) We must return to living within our means and 2) the financial industry must return to a purpose of stewardship.  How have we lost the sense in too many cases that business be the steward of purpose and expertise, be  trusted advisers, in our communities?  And, how do we find that purpose once again?

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