Media Stokes Fear and Loathing in American Politics

Sometimes I wonder about the meanderings of my mind. Often it takes a long and winding road to consider many perspectives and work through various issues before it leads me to a conclusion.

Let’s see where it takes us today.

I watched an interview of Scott Adams yesterday on his assessment of Trump’s and Hillary’s messaging from a persuasion standpoint. You may know him as the author of “Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.

No, I haven’t read it yet, but this isn’t a book review. Nor is it meant to relate or comment upon his evaluation of the effectiveness of Trump/Hillary’s persuasiveness.

Rather, what jumped out at me was a statement he made that

 

 

while we think we are rational beings, 80% of our choices are made based not on reason or logic, but upon emotion.

 

 

To apply this to our lives, in most cases we don’t consciously act; we react to situations, issues and events by drawing upon the beliefs and experiences we already have and the emotional charges associated with them that we’ve stored within us. Then, as new situations arise, we judge them based upon a visceral reaction tainted by our own implicit biases.

You might say we believe what we want to believe, and what we want to believe is that which best fits the emotional response elicited within us.

Emotional responses are physiological reactions to stimuli — both internal and external — triggered by our beliefs, which shape the perspectives we have on our lives and the world.

What a mouthful. Let’s see if I can say it more simply.

Beliefs control emotions. Emotions color everything we think, feel, do and say.

To tame the emotions, release the belief that is used to get you riled. Defuse the trigger. Render the stimulus (the news) harmless so you can keep from being dragged into their fight.

To make it even simpler,

 

Change yourself.  Change your world.

 

 

Assault of the Fear Mongers

Now let’s look at our reality.

Every day we see some new headline designed to raise our ire and tweak our fears. Rather than just feed us facts, they distort and color it with selective facts, narratives and opinions. Yet always the object appears to be the same.

Fear. Fear. And more fear.

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

 

Everywhere we turn, the news is presented in a way that either attacks our interests and beliefs, or reinforces them, depending on which side of the issue we come down on.  Media vilifies all who hold a view opposing their narrative-of-the-day, and distorts the truth to suit their story and push our emotional hot buttons.

Politics is played the same way. One side is good. The other is bad. And we’re not supposed to question any of it. We’re just supposed to have our knee-jerk reactions as they play upon our heart-strings and wallets to get us to do what they want. And then let them.

 

In short, we’re puppets manipulated by the beliefs they feed us and triggered into action by the buttons they push.

 

Or we’re pushed into the opposing camp, automatically against whatever they say simply because they’ve triggered an emotional reaction in us.

Look at our current political climate.

Millions of once-calm individuals have been triggered into hysteria and act out their frustrations in widespread Trump Derangement Syndrome. Millions more are triggered by efforts to stifle incendiary speakers they probably don’t agree with anyway, all to protect against a perceived assault upon the right of free speech. Both sides are manipulated into escalating conflict, thereby creating the news the media wants to cover.

Our media does us a great disservice. Rather than enhancing our society’s peace and freedoms, too often they seem all too happy to fan the flames of conflict, regardless of where it leads. Whether it starts with them or originates with a powerful elite pulling their strings and those of the political Establishment doesn’t matter. The result is the same.

Emotions run high, and people would rather fight than switch.

 

 

Shifting Perspectives

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney via Small Kitchen / CC BY-ND

Step for a moment, if you can, outside the boundaries of your own thoughts and beliefs. Don’t adopt any others for the moment. Just look at them, as if you were outside the entire situation looking in.

What do you see?

Rabid followers fighting over every last thing, determined to get what they want or protect what they believe threatened.  Setting aside reason, or molding it to arrive at predetermined positions based upon their implicit biases, they make war upon all who dare to think or see things another way.

Just this week Taylor Swift has taken a beating  because she tried to stay out of the political fray.  Her detractors said she didn’t speak out strongly enough against Trump.

They want everyone fighting, and will attack all who refuse to play their games.

This is no way to live, much less conduct our common affairs.

In my view, neither side will totally defeat the other, condemning us all to eternal war as they both fight to impose their will on how things should be. But fight they must, for each must neutralize the other for balance to be maintained in the world.

As things escalate, so will the tensions, not to mention more hurtful and harmful attacks. And as we’ve seen in numerous instances, some get so triggered they give in to their darkest urges in violent attacks upon those on the “other side” they blame for their discontent.

I understand their need to allow these energies to play out, but never to an ultimate terminal conclusion.  People need to step back from the ledge and take a breath.

In my view, peace is possible only when we let go of what we’re fighting over. Whatever the justification, conflict only begets more conflict. It does not lead to peace.

Therefore, the only way to stay out of that battle is to apply the principle of detachment taught by Buddha and covered extensively in my book Whispers in the Silence – Living by the Light of Your Soul.  I think it can help us move through these wars in a better way.

The detachment applicable here is two-fold:

 

  1. Loosen the hold of your beliefs so you can consider the value of other ways, including the one you oppose; and

  2. Let go of your need to control the outcome and steer the future where you want it to go.

 

Then you’ll be in a better position to see a path through the conflict. And maybe even discuss it with someone who sees it another way.

This doesn’t mean standing by or not fighting for that which you strongly believe in. Whether that is the Ten Commandments or the inalienable rights recognized in our Declaration of Independence and preserved in the Bill of Rights, it’s okay to be the way you are and feel the way you do — no matter what anybody says.

Now, if your beliefs tend toward destructive or harmful acts toward others, I suggest you rethink them and challenge their foundations Because nothing in what I say is ever to be construed as granting permission to give in to the dark side. There is evil in this world — maybe even in each of us — and

 

while we each have an inalienable right to go our own way,

it is our responsibility to do so without interfering with the ability of others to go theirs.

 

 

This is the principle of Spiritual Justice.

To apply it, I’m suggesting stepping back from the fight. Let consciousness go to work. Try to see the whole picture. Realize that what will be is not within your control, nor that of anyone else. It has a life of it’s own, arranging events and motivating us to get there.

Allow it to guide your efforts, rather than succumb to the emotional responses that have us all on edge and ready to fight.

Most of all, listen to your inner voice. It will show you the way. But you must follow it free of the egoic distortions that now keep you fighting if you want to get where you’re going.

As you do, you will begin to see the benefit and detriment to all sides, and hopefully want to find a path of peace through the conflict that serves the highest interests of all.

Not by logic or reason alone, but with your heart as well, bringing forth the best of the love and kindness you have inside.

None of us can see where we’re going. All of us think we know the way. Perhaps if we can move beyond the emotions and bring a little more consciousness to bear, we can get there together — in peace.

God bless you indeed.

 

 

John Dennison

John Dennison

Editor-in-Chief at PeaceOptions.com
John is a recovering lawyer, spiritual teacher and sepsis survivor. He speaks for peace through knowing yourself and changing your world. His book, "Whispers in the Silence - Living by the Light of Your Soul," is a guide to listen to your inner voice.

John offers a free report, "5 Minutes That Can Change Your World," at http://bit.ly/1QwNenb, and provides coaching and guidance to awakening souls.
John Dennison
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John is a recovering lawyer, spiritual teacher and sepsis survivor. He speaks for peace through knowing yourself and changing your world. His book, “Whispers in the Silence – Living by the Light of Your Soul,” is a guide to listen to your inner voice.

John offers a free report, “5 Minutes That Can Change Your World,” at http://bit.ly/1QwNenb, and provides coaching and guidance to awakening souls.