When I carefully choose what I want to pay attention to, my heart swells.
When I let the world be in charge of what I should pay attention to, my heart sinks.
I think our civilization clearly depends upon finding some middle ground. I know my own family isn’t talking as much because of the polarized political climate. We may be reaching a tipping point of sorts, at least that’s what it feels like to me. I’m hopeful that we can shift course. I believe in the goodness of our shared humanity.
We are living in unprecedented times. A time of chaotic polarity in our civic lives. The lack of middle ground is causing stress to the many systems we all operate in; family, community, government and work. My husband and I are trying to hold some middle ground and manage the stress and anxiety in our home. We’re listening to our children and trying to offer counterpoints to the dizzying array of sound bites & headlines out there fighting for our attention every minute of every day.
I don’t think I’ve hidden my politics from anyone, however, my moderation might be surprising. Labels are easier for all of us than asking questions or being curious about the WHY of someone’s beliefs. We’re ALL guilty of not asking questions and making too many assumptions about others.
We can’t really be heard if we aren’t willing to listen too.
My politics were left leaning before I left conservative Sioux Falls College (now the University of Sioux Falls) in 1988. For my family it was easier to blame my democratic husband who hailed from Massachusetts than to believe I was an outlier. My first experience out of college was to move to New Zealand and work at a non-denominational Christian Radio Station (Radio Rhema) http://www.rhema.co.nz/. My friends were from all over the world and it was fascinating. I actually met the King of Tonga. I heard stories from so many unique perspectives and experiences. This time in my life greatly shaped my personal beliefs. Travel made the world seem quite small in some ways, completely accessible and ready for exploration.
I consider myself proudly American AND a global citizen. My early travel opportunites had a big affect on my choices. It eventually led me to Burlington, Vermont, where I’ve lived since New Year’s Day 1990. Our community is rich with diversity and I feel it’s been quite an education for myself and my family.
My daughters have friends from all over the world (including Muslim kids, many who spent time in refuge camps). They’ve heard interesting stories since early elementary school from their classmates. This is simply our family’s circumstance of living in Burlington, Vermont. I acknowledge that not having contact with people of various nationalities, who dress, speak, and worship differently can make people more fearful. I do understand this from growing up in rural South Dakota AND I don’t pretend to understand what other people feel about this issue. I’m only speaking from my own experience.
When I wrote and asked about the opposite of FEAR last week there were so many thoughtful responses; acceptance, curiosity, love, hope, community and Mark P. wrote; “ACTIONABLE FAITH is the opposite of fear.” I love the idea of actionable faith and that sounds a lot like curiosity to me.
Right now in American life, it’s seems convenient to align ourselves with our political teams and operate in MOB MENTALITY. Reciting talking points from the side we’ve taken without listening isn’t real dialogue and won’t ever promote deeper understanding.
The significantly more challenging and intellectually exhausting space is to take a breath, listen to your own thought and those of others and try to find some middle ground. It’s really uncomfortable to differentiate ourselves and our views when it puts us at odds with our team or the people we care about. Uncomfortable, but really necessary.
of being way too serious way too much of my day. I started out this morning reading the New York Times and all of the crazy political news. David Duke is back, really? Then I landed on this piece about “cognitive closure” and it really struck me. I was so interested in this concept that I read it to my highly disinterested 16-year-old daughter, Lucy. My husband, Jeff kind of listened to me, but he really just wanted to work on the 1970s song “My Maria” and play his guitar while our cat, Karen watched him adoringly. Clearly, I need to lighten up. Goofing off more lessens the anxiety of those around us too. Our cat was trying to show me what to pay attention to this morning. Oh the wisdom of Karen.
AND YET…I still couldn’t quite help myself. “Dr. Kruglanski is best known for his theory of “cognitive closure,” a term he coined in 1989 to describe how we make decisions. “Closure” is the moment that you make a decision or form a judgment. You literally close your mind to new information.” By
Changing habits is hard, fun is coming—I promise. Conceptually “cognitive closure” is something to consider, especially when you feel unable to see the options available to you and a choice needs to be made. The middle path always allows us to see a lot more options. But, it’s much harder to do. Our brain wants to shut down our options. It’s way easier than considering new information. I told you I’m guilty of being way too serious. Good Golly, Lisa enough about cognitive closure (no matter how interesting of a psychological concept this is)…it’s time for fun.
So, after I read this piece I searched for FUN and landed on a country music video about HANGING OUT. Here’s my gift to you today. Thank you LITTLE BIG TOWN. You guys clearly know how to lighten up.
Back this hitch up into the water
Untie all the cables and rope
Step onto the AstroTurf
Get yourself a coozie
Watching this video reminded me that we used to hit golf balls off the front of our boat when I was in college. Oh, we really knew how to play then.
Fear limits our options & choices, constricts our breathing and makes us feel like crap.
Love makes us feel expansive, gives us options & choices and makes us feel great.
Every moment of every day we’re given a choice.
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