We just had a full moon, lunar eclipse and - election day! According to astrology, and most analysts and pollsters, we were primed to expect the unexpected. Turns out it was NOT typical but - the more things change, the more they stay the same!
My main take-away today is that we are still deeply divided, which was predictable. Why? Is it because we basically have two choices? Nothing is ever black and white, but people with different perspectives have been able to work together in the past.
The first red flag feeding this split is disinformation and outright lies. This comes from bad actors all over the world, and has personal gain - usually for power and money - as the motive. Until we can all agree on relatively similar facts it will be difficult to reconcile. The internet exaggerates this problem.
The research findings of a Nobel prize winner in psychology* establishes that we base decisions on biases, versus rationality (remember the old adage “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.”?) What we think about any subject is predetermined as we look for “facts” that confirm our beliefs.
What that doesn’t explain is the intense hatred, demonizing (and justification of violence) toward people with different opinions. You can have a productive conversation, where each person is able to express themselves without being judged, when there is very little “energetic charge” behind the words. Given that our beliefs come from emotion rather than intellect, dispassionate dialog is challenging!
Another factor affecting our society and feeding this division is an either/or mindset. It is never a good thing - not in politics, healthcare, education or work. There are always many alternatives and variations to be considered. I have noticed on both ends of the political spectrum an “us versus them” world view. Fear for survival is a pretty strong, emotionally charged place to come from! If someone identifies as a victim, driven by being against something or someone, a rational conversation is unlikely.
In most situations the best we can do is tread gently with kindness and respect. Over time that can become reciprocal, no matter our preferences. The choice between love over fear (and its ugly stepchild anger) is always clear. Even so, there are many specific actions we can take with that intention! It’s the best chance we have for living with others with our freedom, dignity and safety intact.
Toxic division has affected our relationship to families, friends and called into question assumptions about shared values. Be an evolutionary force for healing, always but especially now.
Peace, love and healing -
*Daniel Kahneman, author of “Thinking, Fast and Slow”