Thursday, December 13, 2007

How do you change a mind? Our future depends on the answer.

As many of you may know, I am distressed and upset at our nation's headlong plunge into a Fascist dictatorship, and the failure our our "leadership", Democrats and Republicans alike, to serve the interests of the citizens by living up to their sworn oaths to defend the Constitution. They are killing our democracy and will not respond to the will of the people they were elected to serve. I have previously voiced the opinion that the only avenues open to us are either massive civil disobedience or, God forbid, revolution.

However, the latest National Intelligence Estimate, which flatly stated that Iran does NOT have an active program to develop nuclear weapons, may have derailed our governments plan to start WWIII by attacking that country pre-emptively. Thus, with that pressure temporarily removed, we may have gained some much-needed breathing space to attempt to reclaim our democracy by other means, specifically by reaching out to conservative voters, who tend to be easily led by "authority figures",and get them to think for themselves.

I've run across some very good essays recently that describe the problem of conservatism, and conservatives, and how we might fight back against the tide of irrational thought and actions upon which their movement depends. I've linked to these and suggest that you give them a careful read, because they all make good points.

The first is by Digby @ Common Sense (H/T to AlterNet): "How Conservatives Manipulate People Into Voting Against Their Best Interests". The subtitle"Pseudopopulists have destroyed reason" nails the thrust of the essay, and it is informative.

The second is an interview with Thom Hartmann by Onnesha Roychoudhuri in AlterNet : "Thom Hartmann: How Liberals Can Speak Without Boring Everyone to Tears". He has a brilliant mind. He's pushing a book, as usual, and, as usual, you should buy it.

The third is by George Lakoff at The Rockridge Nation: "Responding to Conservative Name-Calling". Mr Lakoff suggests that we should respond to conservative attacks by responding in a way that gives a progressive viewpoint. Personally, I think that this is useful, but that there is more that should be done, and will tell you what and why.

Most folks who read my blog, indeed, any left-leaning political blog, understand that we as a nation are in a lot of trouble, and that short of drastic steps, the only way to retake our nation is by de-programming enough conservative automatons that we can present at the voting booths overwhelming numbers of citizens who will vote in the best interests of the nation, instead of the interests of the corporate, aristocratic elite few.

Human nature being what it is, it's a given that you CANNOT change anyone's mind by finger-pointing, screechy, in-your-face confrontation. We, all of us, automatically push back and get defensive when that happens, so it's entirely counterproductive. If anything, we tend only to "dig in our heels" and refuse to listen. A person must change their own mind--no one else can do it for them. And before that can happen, the mind must be open to change.

If we are to be successful in bringing others around to our views, we must reach them in a different way. I believe that a much softer approach is necessary--one that encourages introspection and thought--two things currently in short supply--with simple basic non-threatening messages designed to open minds to the possibility that other viewpoints might be valid. In short, using the power of suggestion.

A non-verbal approach is less likely to evoke a pushback response, and so essays, flyers, opinion pieces in the newspapers, etc. could be effective. I was heartened when a friend agreed that I was on to something here, and so I came up with the following as an example of what I believe we should do. I took a very basic theme ("trust"), and wrote about it in a general way to make my points.


What is "trust". It is the faith that we place in people, that they will not lie to us, or cheat us, or harm us. In other words, that people we trust will do as they say they will, and as we expect them to.

This "trust" thing is pretty important, because it affects virtually every aspect of our lives-- our relationships, our financial well-being, our attitudes about others, and it is indeed a fragile thing. The reason for this is that to trust someone requires a tremendous sacrifice on our part. We must give up control of our well-being and security to someone else, place ourselves at the mercy of others, hope we didn't make a mistake. We make ourselves vulnerable to harm, and when that part of ourselves which we have voluntarily given away is abused, we are badly hurt emotionally. We naturally resent it, and will not again trust those who have hurt us.

We teach our children the importance of honesty. All small children lie at some point, and we work very hard to teach them that lying is absolutely the one thing that cannot be tolerated, because liars can't be TRUSTED.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

If our bankers cheat us, if our insurance companies won't honor valid claims, if retailers don't give us fair value for the money we spend, our car salesmen (don't laugh!) sell us lemons, or our doctors don't help us get well, we know that we would be fools to trust them again. Likewise, friends who do us wrong won't stay friends, wives who lie or cheat or spend foolishly or neglect the kids won't stay wives for long, and clergymen who are hypocritical or don't keep us on the right path will be abandoned.

When our trust, our faith in the good intentions and actions of others, has been abused, it really hurts, and when the abuse of trust has gone on for a long time, it hurts even more.Unfortunately, where violation of trust has occurred, ignorance is not bliss, because the damage will go on whether you realize it or not, and you can't stop it until you know about it. Because of that, we all have self-protection systems running inside our minds all the time. Call it a "weather eye", or "intuition", or a "sixth sense", but we can usually tell when something isn't right. We usually get a nagging uneasy feeling that warns us that something is amiss.

That said, what about some of the authority figures in our lives? These are people who have a great deal of influence on us, but it's simply amazing how often we ignore the little nagging warning signals we get about them, and I'm not sure why.

Do our elected officials, politicians and other public figures somehow deserve less scrutiny? Shouldn't they, given their tremendous potential for good or harm, be given even more attention than some others? Well, that would seem to make sense.

I would suggest you give them a closer look, and compare what they say with what they do, and then square that with how you feel about it. Does what you find feel right, or somehow wrong (that naggy thing). Did they do what they said, vote for the things they said they would, and that would benefit you, or not?

If you're comfortable with what you find, then all well and good. But, if something doesn't add up, you'll have to figure out what and why, and check more closely. If your suspicions are confirmed, if you discover that you have been misled, then you can take steps.

If you wouldn't stay married to a lying spouse, then you probably wouldn't stay "married" to a lying politician, either.

Please (and pardon the expression) trust me when I say that these periodic "truth audits" are something we ALL need to do. We deserve the best from our trusted servants, and need to make sure we're getting it. Don't you agree?


You'll note a gentle, non-accusatory tone throughout this message. Hopefully, it can help. And the subject that I chose is only one of many that could be used in like manner. And remember that we can never reach everybody, nor do we need to. We only need to get through to enough.

I need help with this. I need to hear from you with comments, criticisms, ideas, even essays such as the one above. Please get in touch!!

Oh, and thanks!!

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