Two Weeks In

Perspective

dsc_4439-nc-paint-daubs-20-20-smallerIt seems like forever, doesn’t it, but Inauguration Day was only two weeks ago.

It’s difficult to admit this, but one of the new administration’s psychological strategies is playing out well for them: a lot of people out there are facing Trump and Bannon burn-out. We’re tiring of the assaults, and we’re growing numb. It seems as though we can’t turn on an electronic device, open anything printed, or even travel across town without hearing or seeing something related to Trump or Bannon. Eventually we will tune them out, their names will go in one ear and out the other, we will get accustomed to attacks on our liberties and to living under a totalitarian dictatorship. Without public outrage and protest, Trump and Bannon will be free to get away with anything they want.

Understand that the media blitz is part of Trump and Bannon’s plan. So if you want to beat them, don’t succumb to it. Turn off your television. Turn off your radio. I know it’s great to promote your business and to stay in contact with friends, but turn off Facebook. Turn off Twitter. All we’re seeing on so many social media sites right now is anger and ferocious judgment and closed-minded opinion. Remember united we stand, divided we fall? None of that Trump-bashing or Trump-supporting political ranting helps anyone. None of that helps our love lives, our friendships, our families, or our relationships in our communities and workplaces. It doesn’t help immigrants stuck in airports, it doesn’t help all the foreign economies destroyed by World Bank and IMF, and it doesn’t help the innocent people all over the world that our military calls “collateral damage.” Turn off news and current event coverage, all sources, right now. Power down.

Breathe.

For just a moment, listen to the silence.

Silence isn’t the absence of noise, it’s just not allowing any one noise to dominate your attention. This puts you back in control of your attention. All those noises haven’t gone anywhere, they still exist. And all that news and opinion and current event coverage hasn’t gone anywhere either. It still exists. You’re not out of the loop, you haven’t missed anything.

Breathe.

Take a moment to remember a time about a year ago, before the election campaigns turned nasty, before we stopped boycotting companies with political views, before families and friends stopped speaking to one another other. Remember back when we took action without ranting and raving about it? Remember back when people still liked each other? Remember back when agreeing on politics wasn’t a condition of friendship? Maybe we need to acknowledge that we’ve closed, or at least narrowed, our minds and hearts in light of recent events. Maybe the way out of this funk then is to open them again. Even if other people aren’t doing so, even if it looks crazy. Even if opening our hearts to both refugees and conservatives makes no sense to anyone else, and even if opening our minds to both climate change and climate deniers makes us doubt our own sanity sometimes.We can be the first to bridge this gap. We can be the ones that start this trend, that bring opposing forces together. We can be the next foundation stones of post-hate America.

While I’ve been speaking all the hateful, judgmental noise has continued. It’s still going on right now. Politicians and their backers and media outlets and their advertisers are all clambering for our attention, and they know: the more outrageous they are, the more likely we are to watch. Millions of angry words meant to grab our attention and addict us are being spoken and published every second of every day. We can bite that hook and be dragged along by it, or we can be the solution.

There are many ways we can do that, and the actions we take need to evolve all the time in response to the issues we face. Here then is an easy first step that we can do right now to both help avoid Trump and Bannon burn-out and widen our bridge-building, peace-making perspectives: we stop allowing others to decide for us what the truth is, and begin deciding that for ourselves. Like a journalist on a deadline, we gather facts from a variety of sources, compare and contrast them, and decide for ourselves where the truth lays.

Allow yourself a maximum of one hour of current events each day. Spoken news, whether television or radio, can cover only a handful of stories during that hour, so instead use that hour to browse newspapers. Divide the hour among both liberal and conservative newspaper websites, a combination that gives a variety of perspectives and hopefully results in a relatively balanced view. Just browse headlines and read a few lead paragraphs, because some stories will catch your attention and you’ll need time to read further. You’ll likely find it interesting to contrast how very different coverage can be of the same event. The reality, the truth, lays somewhere in the middle, and it’s up to you to define it.

OK journalists, let’s discover the truth. A lot of people wonder whose voice we can trust, and the answer is: our own. We have one hour to gather facts from fourteen sources. That means only four minutes on each. In just one hour you likely will have gathered information and perspectives from more sources than anyone you know. Go!

Conservative newspaper: http://www.washingtontimes.com/
Liberal newspaper: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
Conservative newspaper: http://www.csmonitor.com/
Liberal newspaper: https://www.nytimes.com/
Conservative newspaper: http://www.investors.com/
Liberal newspaper: http://www.latimes.com/
Conservative newspaper: https://www.wsj.com/
Liberal newspaper: http://www.sfchronicle.com/
Conservative newspaper: http://www.thehill.com/
Liberal newspaper: https://www.bostonglobe.com/
Conservative newspaper: http://gazette.com/
Liberal newspaper: https://www.theguardian.com/us
Conservative newspaper: https://spectator.org/
Liberal newspaper: http://www.economist.com/

After doing this for a while you’ll likely begin to recognize that the newspapers you used to rely on are as biased in one direction as those “obviously biased” ones are in the other. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. When we listen only to news from the one side we agree with, we don’t know where the middle is, and we distance ourselves from the truth.

In future, your family, friends, workplace, and community will all play a part in this. Beyond newspapers, you’ll begin to recognize that you need people with different perspectives. You need all those people that you used to avoid, the ones you blocked and un-friended and schedule around because there was nothing on which you could possibly ever agree. Your life needs the truth as much as your understanding of news and current events. Your life can never arrive at the truth without an awareness of as many differing perspectives as possible.

Today, let’s start with the news.