Relative to politics and religion, people ask “How do I make the right choice?” I’m not sure what that choice should be. A great deal of the issues that are presented in clinical circumstances are from people who get stalled and want to do the “Right” thing and make the “Right” choice but they find themselves swarmed by competing information.
It’s really clear that the world is not paying attention to the three rules I’ve shared before that I give to clients which makes a huge difference in their lives. Those rules are stop yelling, stop swearing and stop name-calling.
If you listen to the news or social media it’s clear that those rules don’t have a big part in our current culture. Probably the clearest obstacle that leads to breaking these rules is the use of titles or labels. In politics, the labels that are used consistently include liberal, conservative, far right, far left, racist, misogynist, atheist and idiot. While this list is not exhaustive, you start to get an idea that the labels are used mostly as a means of generalizing and name-calling. All it takes to be given one of these labels is to disagree with someone. The result of using such labels is that the volume of an argument is increased and the understanding that there is little – or no – factual basis gets lost.
In religion, the barrier seems to be denominations or subgroups of religions. The differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims are many. However when the title Muslim is used, the general intent seems to reduce all of them to the same belief system. Within Christianity there is a vast difference between the beliefs of the various denominations; yet the label of Christian seems to be most often used to lump them all into one group. Even differences within denominations can be quite significant; yet it is assumed often that all members of a particular denomination think alike and feel the same about things.
In the media we even see labeling used to represent that all people of a particular race believe the same. On social media today I saw an advertisement for a DNA testing company that I think you should watch. A small group of people were given the results of their DNA testing and found that amongst the group represented there was no clear individual lineage. All of the people in the advertisement had links to several races or cultures that they had not expected. Some even found that there DNA indicated that their heritage was through groups that they were personally prejudiced against. The point here is that the facts and perceptions didn’t line up.
I have also found that it is very difficult to find a news source that is consistently reliable. All of them seem to be politically and religiously biased and our ability to determine the facts is clouded by emotion. A number of news sources have been recommended to me which, coincidentally, seem to agree with the political beliefs of the person making the recommendation. I found the same thing when discussing religion. What people believe is “Right” is more dependent on their agreement rather than their depth of knowledge of the topic.
Most of the information to which you have access is based on emotion rather than fact. Sometimes facts create emotion but emotion never creates facts. Virtually any position that you choose to take can be supported if the field of data used is sufficiently small. Examples of this are numerous when you look at words or statements that are taken out of context. I believe Americans have become a culture that is drawn to headlines and not to data, and that frustrates me.
I consider myself a scientist in all areas of knowledge. I believe that when a scientist no longer considers alternatives to their belief system, that belief system is no longer scientific. If belief systems are not based in verifiable fact then they are at great risk of being based only on emotion. I believe that religious beliefs must be historically verifiable or once again they are based on emotion.
I am a veteran of three different military entities. I was active duty with the United States Navy, a member of the National Guard, and retired from the Navy Reserve. I believe that it is the responsibility of American citizens to vote for the preservation of our country and the right to worship, or not worship, as we choose. I believe that only citizens should vote and I further believe that it is a moral imperative to be an educated voter. This is where it becomes very difficult due to the things I’ve already mentioned in this writing.
The way I manage my life when it comes to politics and religion is to begin with relaxation by utilizing the rules of no yelling, no swearing and no name-calling. I use those same rules when I’m evaluating data to make my decisions. I try not to give much credence to information that is given loudly or disrespectfully. Since I believe that no one has all of the right answers and also that no one is completely wrong, I gather as much information as possible and begin to evaluate the weight of the information. I know that I, like everyone else, tend to be biased toward positions that I find I already agree with.
I encourage everyone to learn what their personal goals are for their family, community and country and begin to evaluate information based on those goals along with their personal beliefs. Additionally, I encourage people to give very serious thought to the legacy of their family, community and country and make decisions that support and further that legacy. Get beyond the headlines and begin to investigate the information being given including the historic and factual accuracy. Don’t be swayed by pure emotion or labels.
Being informed takes time and effort. Investigate opinions that are different than your own and discuss what you find, or believe you find, with a variety of people. Those people who only gather and discuss information with a small group tend to limit their diversity of thought. Always be willing to allow your beliefs to be challenged because it is only through defending challenges that you will find strength.
Mostly, I believe that it is important to relax and prepare for the next step. We are not always going to get it right the first time so it becomes important to have a plan for recovery. Election outcomes are not necessarily going to be what we want and religions are not always going to tell us what we think we need to hear. Begin to manage your life by beginning to manage your information.
Thanks for your time. I look forward to your feedback.