Tonight I asked myself what do I want to understand a little bit better about America? There’s something happening that feels very unique now. Unfamiliar. I paid attention to where my line of inquiry lead me.
First, I GOOGLED: What makes people curious?
“…’Curiosity’ is a discrete psychological trait that varies within human populations just like other personality dimensions such as extroversion/introversion and agreeableness/aggression.”
OK, some people are born curious and others aren’t. Well, that makes a lot of sense, right? Then I started wondering what’s the opposite of curious? Skepticism? No, skepticism plays in the same sandbox as curiosity. Disinterested? Unconcerned? It wasn’t very clear to me in any way.
I asked myself a question—How do I feel when I’m not being curious?
I think I might feel certain.
I make assumptions based on my gut or environmental factors/circumstances.
I don’t feel very curious. I don’t value other people’s ideas. I don’t listen.
So, next I GOOGLED: What makes people certain about things?
“,,,Certainty and similar states of “knowing what we know” arise out of primary brain mechanisms that, like love or anger, function independently of rationality or reason. Feeling correct or certain isn’t a deliberate conclusion or conscious choice. It is a mental sensation that happens to us…” Source: “ON BEING CERTAIN: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not” by Dr. Robert A. Burton
So, certainty is actually a biological feeling, a mental sensation independent of rationality or reason? We choose certainty because it’s easier?
Damn, that’s really interesting. Now what? CERTAINTY is so polarizing in America (and in my own home with young adult children). It’s a conversation killer. It’s a deal breaker. It keeps organizations from growing. How do we find common ground in our nation now? It’s late—2:53 am—this is way too much for my very tired brain.
I had to further narrow my inquiry.
HOW DO CERTAINTY & CURIOSITY MANIFEST IN MY LIFE?
Curiosity results in greater understanding & builds trust.
Certainty tends to make me rigid & judgmental.
I don’t want to be rigid & judgmental.
I want to be curious.
Whew, that was interesting and pretty exhausting. After many hours and lost sleep, I’ve confirmed that my desire is to be a curious person and that few things in life are so certain that they don’t require some investigation. Life is really funny sometimes.
And just for reference…This is where I started 4 hours ago.
My husband, Jeff listened to a book about Jim Jones and told me about it—fascinating and horrifying. I needed to know more. Curiosity takes us on interesting journeys, huh? I’m not going to read the book (39 hours of audio). Jeff told me enough to want to know a more. I stumbled upon this information.
Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.
By Rick Ross, Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist
- Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
- No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
- No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
- Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
- There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
- Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
- There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
- Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
- The group/leader is always right.
- The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.
- Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
- Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower’s mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused–as that person’s involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
- Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as “persecution”.
- Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
- Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
- Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
- A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
- Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
- Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
- Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.
Ten signs of a safe group/leader.
- A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.
- A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses. Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.
- A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.
- A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.
- A safe group/leader will not have a paper trail of overwhelmingly negative records, books, articles and statements about them.
- A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.
- A safe group/leader will recognize reasonable boundaries and limitations when dealing with others.
- A safe group/leader will encourage critical thinking, individual autonomy and feelings of self-esteem.
- A safe group/leader will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.
- A safe group/leader will not be the only source of knowledge and learning excluding everyone else, but value dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.
I don’t know where all of this information will lead me. I guess I wanted to better understand cult leaders. This made me think about “ABC After School Specials” in the 70s and 80s when kids had to be “reprogrammed”. In my memory, Jodie Foster was constantly reprogrammed after having fallen prey to a cult leader.
Good golly, I’m certain it’s time for bed. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz