RBG was called a belligerent optimist, in her honor I am calling this piece Belligerent Optimism. As we approach the elections I want everyone to STOP, breath deeply, calm down your thoughts by staying present in the moment. By focusing on your breathing in slowly to the count of four, holding it momentarily and releasing it slowly to the count of six. Do it again, quiet the mind. Now think of some event, or person that as you think about that or them a smile starts to form as your lips curl upward. Savor that smile and that image for a moment. Thank you for taking the time to slow down and to do some self care.
From this detached place away from negative emotions, I want you to look at where we are at. The belligerence that we are finding ourselves seeing in each other. 86% of Republicans think that Democrats have been brainwashed, and 88% of Democrats feel that Republican have been brainwashed. Republicans see 84% as hateful, and Democrats see Republicans 87% as hateful. The truth is that three quarters of Americans believe that our differences are not so great that we can’t come together. The problem is not the reality but the perception gap. We both share similar views in many aspects and we underestimate how much we have in common. The perception gap is what is getting in the way, we have come to believe that each side holds extreme views. When we believe that we become threatened and we begin to see each other as the enemy. This is a dangerous place to be, as we become more polarized democracy is at stake.
The press, social media, networks, political candidates, consultants, special interests, the current president and others benefit from dividing us. They benefit from focusing on the extremes, exaggerating the disagreements and inciting conflict and dividing. Divide and conquer has been a tactic that has been used throughout the centuries, by many nations. And many democracies have died as a result of it.
The media, depending on the source, presents very different views of the same event, frequently presented without context. The problem with that is that everything, every behavior is contextual, when you devoid it from context it can be distorted and twisted to fit whatever narrative you are supporting. The two policemen that were shot point blank in LA, one narrative presents as a revenge response for the killings of unarmed…