Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Reason We Fight

Several months ago, I met some church friends of my parents who had come to the hospital where my mom was having tests run. As they had heard various stories involving myself and my sisters, who were also at the hospital, they asked questions in order to understand which one of us went with various stories. Apparently, I said something that hit home because the man said, "So you're the conspiracy theorist." I laughed and confessed that was me.

The irony is, my parents would never have described me to anyone as a conspiracy theorist (even though they know I am one). Until that moment, I had no idea the people from the church community I grew up in called me that behind my back. It does not come as a big surprise (nor does it upset me). I have had quite a few of them unfriend me on Facebook because they cannot stomach much of what I post on my page (which is oddly tame compared to the stuff I research). There are probably many more who have unfollowed my page in order to keep themselves sane. It goes with the territory when you make the decision to be as transparent in your beliefs as possible. I have never had problems standing up for what I believe in, even when it means standing alone.

It dawns on me now that the political divide we are feeling in the United States of America and the rest of the world is really not about differences in political philosophy as much as it about resolving the cognitive dissonance this election has brought up within ourselves. Face it. The world is changing in BIG ways. Change is difficult for most of us in the best of times. When the whole world is in upheaval at the same time, it is going to bring up some pretty big garbage that needs to be sorted through and dealt with.

Cognitive dissonance occurs when our rational minds are confronted with information our hearts tell us is true but are not quite ready to deal with in a rational way. We will run from it, go into denial, argue, and even fight in order to get away from this growing awareness. The thing is, cognitive dissonance will not go away, even if you change who you hang out with or your physical location. Truth will seek you out (and sometimes hunt you down) until you choose to look at it.

How do you know you are in a state of cognitive dissonance? You know because certain topics set you on edge (or sometimes on fire). You feel compelled to argue and justify why you believe as you do. As you go deeper into the process, you find your "rational" arguments begin to lose their power but you argue on. Sometimes you go so far as dismiss arguments altogether, justifying your beliefs solely on the thought the other side is "stupid" or "ignorant" and just hasn't thought it through.

My interactions on social media lately have been interesting. When I post anything that could be interpreted as positive toward Trump, I am immediately labeled an ignorant, conservative Trump supporter and told why my approval is baseless. When I post my approval of the Women's March that swept DC and many areas of the country, I am told it was all funded by George Soros and is just a way to keep Trump demonized in the minds of the people. (I do need to confess I enjoy playing the devil's advocate. I don't expect people will agree with me, but I do want people to assess why they believe as they do.) 

My own personal areas of cognitive dissonance involve my own ego when it comes to dealing with personal attacks. I am learning to deal with attacks in positive ways, attempting to bend and adapt in ways that do not break me or my composure. I have a long way to go before I get to that place of inner peace. I'm sure more garbage will naturally appear once this one is dealt with in full. I, too, am a work-in-progress.

The next time someone or something makes you angry enough to argue or fight, take a moment to ask yourself why. It may just be that your heart is bringing awareness to your mind so you have the capacity to face it, deal with it, and heal it. Our whole world begins to heal when we deal with the cognitive dissonance within ourselves.



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