- If we can review our own attachments to concepts, our own conditioning, we may see that many of our belief systems are no different than one big conspiracy theory.
When we say, “we are not this” and “we are not that,” we miss the opportunity to truly see who we are. Just as, when we make statements such as “they are this” or “they are that” we miss the opportunity to truly understand them (and really ourselves). Using ‘isms’ and simplistic explanations for anything multifaceted is a missed opportunity at the very least. All that this way of thinking when left unchecked does is take us down the road of extreme. And extreme is futile and dangerous, because it is erroneous. Dialing up a facet of something that is multifaceted does not factor in its relationship with other facets and results in incorrect diagnoses. Simplistic extreme thinking tainted by our own conditioning is the source of disinformation. And when left unchecked, it compounds, QAnon being a prime example, but not the only one!
A private company kicking someone out for violating its T&Cs has become “Big Tech is silencing conservative voices!” and “My freedom of speech is violated” (untrue), which then influences all receptivity to any initiatives by the new administration (because of the belief that they are somehow connected). “If you voted for Trump in 2016, you are a racist, sexist, bigot!” (not true), which then colors all interactions with anybody that identifies as Republican; “A Conservative SC is going to hand Trump the election, so ACB this and ACB that!” (not true again). “Increase in drug overdose deaths in the last quarter in Seattle has become the fault of the Democrat voters. It is the Seattle City Council’s fault for not addressing people’s addictions aside from crime, homelessness, unemployment, divorces, child-abuse.” (Really?!) This is just like dumping the kitchen sink on the cops! Taking an event and painting it blue or red for posterity, because of one’s own affiliations or insecurities over-simplifies things, makes it poorly understood, is a missed opportunity, makes a toxic impression within us and sows the seeds of disinformation, waiting to be amplified by the design of social media.
This kind of extreme thinking, when nursed over time and when amplified, creates divides that are unbridgeable, chasms that are impossible to cross and causes instability. Yes, Trump used it effectively, but his coming to power was no accident, the citizenry is culpable in electing Trump, not just through directly voting for him, but through our own errors in extreme/simplistic thinking and willingness to listen to and amplify irresponsible journalism (and othering or blaming instead of taking personal accountability, but more on this another time).
Ever wondered what it takes for elected representatives to “reach across the aisle”?
If we can review our own attachments to concepts, our own conditioning, we may see that many of our belief systems are no different than one big conspiracy theory. Then comes putting them aside.
It’s really a more effective and equanimous approach if we embrace instead of rejecting i.e. if we say “we are this”, “we are that” and “we are the other as well.” As a body politic, that means we are authoritarian, we are democratic, we are religious, we are secular, we are socialist, we are capitalist, we are conservative, we are liberal, we are a democratic republic, we are urban, we are rural, … we are all of these things! And we are purple! This allows us to look at a situation for what it is at that moment, with all the irrefutable facts, as it directly impacts us, versus measure it against some preconceived idea or attachment or story and invariably get it wrong and seed disinformation. It allows us to be unattached to any one belief and ultimately it allows us to live and let live.
As a wise one said, “if you change the way you see things, the things you see change.”
This calls for: i) Acceptance — This means we accept that differences exist and respect them. We know ourselves. We accept the process. This lets us evaluate a situation for what it is in the moment. ii) Curiosity — This means we approach something to understand, not to dismiss or denounce, no matter what our political affiliation or color or ethnicity is. This means we get curious about root causes and origins and not be comfortable with the laziest explanation tainted by our attachments or tribal affiliations. This means we pick where we consume information from. This means we are willing to change our mind. This means we co-exist! iii) Participation — Ensure we are represented i.e., vote in all elections based on i) and ii) above.
2020 has been a reminder to reset, among other things. It became apparent that what brought the collective this far could not be what takes it forward. This moment in U.S. history calls for a reset in thinking. It is not something that can be delegated to those at the helm. We have seen that the “leaders” take the cue from the citizenry. So, guess who are the leaders? It really starts with us. It is not “We’re not this” or “We’re not that.” It is “We ARE this” and “We ARE that” and “We ARE the other.”
Rohita Shanker is a resident of the Pacific Northwest. She is a technology management consultant by profession. She enjoys art, theater, global travel, nature, photography, literary events and endeavors including writing on social issues. Rohita revels in the synergy she observes around her and is passionate about revealing and creating connections in all aspects of her life.