There is too much divisive talk these days. We are pushing one another further and further away over ideas. What is worse, we are not even creating the ideas…we are being told them. A conclusion I have come to in my short 40 years on this planet is that talking about politics will eventually create hypocrites because we refuse to see the other side’s merits.
With the 2020 presidential election only a week away, there is no shortage of opinions and fear-mongering being tossed freely across the ether. Trump will do this… Biden will do that. It is to the point that actual facts are impossible to discern and according to many experts the fake news spreads 6 times faster than the truth. This means those willing to question a news story can’t even dig deeper if they wanted to. This is problem one.
No baseline of truth. We are taught integrity first and our values are the baseline of our leadership and decision-making. However, when we can’t even trust what we are reading or hearing, we have no baseline. Now, our only hope is to lean on those who think like us.
Follow your tribe. We are programmed to fit in with a social group for survival purposes. In the old days, this more of a geographical thing. The kids in your neighborhood, those at the office, etc. were who you mingled with. We all had different beliefs that we mixed together to form our tribe. Now, we are able to search the entire globe for those who believe an idea we believe. I don’t need my neighbors anymore, I can finds solace with someone five states away who shares my beliefs.
The problem with a non-geographical tribe is that we are not really needing to count on each other to survive, it is moral support. This is a gift and a curse. A gift, because my neighbors could care less about the things I post on this site. A curse, because when we are seeing things the same way, it is hard to accept a different perspective.
Perspectives can vary. I wish I could say I was above getting into some of these political debates, but my pride has defeated me a time or two. When I do stay grounded it is when I am willing to accept that others have a different perspective based on their wisdom and experiences and not everyone is a Joe-Bot who thinks and acts like me. For example, the photo at the top of this article has been used to prove this point ever since Stephen Covey wrote The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People 31 years ago. He would break the room into two groups and show one group the picture of a young lady and the other one of the elderly woman below.
He would then bring both groups back together and ask them how old they thought the woman was. Some would say she was in her 20’s and the others would think they were crazy and she was in her 70’s. Arguments would actually break out amongst the group.
The irony is that they were both seeing the same picture, but their programming altered how they saw it. The same goes for our own perspectives. We are programmed by those we associate with. Social media actually pushes stuff into our feeds that aligns with our search history and viewing preferences. We are basically molding our minds to see an old lady or a young lady. It is to the point where we can hear the same speech on the news and form completely different opinions than others based on this programming.
The remedy. There is no hard fast cure for this. In fact, there are more forces working to grab your attention than those working to get us to come back together. In fact, I am writing this because I couldn’t find anything that was not divisive. The remedy to all of this is swallowing our own pride and admitting (if only to ourself) that we are programmed from what we see and read. I am a firm believer that if you switch the D and R with President Trump and Biden those leaning conservative would be programmed to see him as the best candidate and vice versa.
As leaders, we are faced with two sides of the story on a daily basis. It is often up to us to dig through the mess to find the closest thing to the truth as we can. Don’t fall victim to your programming and biases. Be willing to find out why they think the old hag is an attractive young lady.