brain, extreme wealth, political realities, psychology, redistribution, regulation, sociology, taxing, world view
Deepak Chopra once said, in one of his innumerable books, that everyone is doing the best they can, given their level of understanding. What he meant I think, was that most of the time, most people have sincere motives, no matter how deeply flawed their thinking might actually be. And, we should, he claims, honor at least the sincerity.
That is of course the rub, as I survey a host of issues that have arisen in the past few days, trying very hard to wrap my brain around the thinking on the part of others that leaves me baffled and need I add angry?
There’s a book out called Game Changers, and in it, among others, there are claims about John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth. They are not pretty. Elizabeth is portrayed as arrogant, and belittling to her husband and John Edwards, is portrayed, as, well, much the liar. He touted honesty, yet was having a brazen affair, one well known to his wife apparently. And it seems that he soon turned to bargaining his “power base” for a second shot at the VP and later still, he reduced that to Attorney General.
I began to question my ability to judge character, since I had, along with the Contrarian had nothing but good things to say and think about Edwards during the campaign. We thought him a decent, honorable, honest, man who firmly “got” the plight of the working person in this country.
And, as the Massachusetts election takes place today, I wonder how did things come to this? How do people who are so much like me, think so very differently? How is it that we see the world in nearly opposite ways?
The psychologists and brain experts tell us that we are deeply shaped by our environment and we mostly see the world through a thick lens of personal incidents that we are not remotely aware of. We THINK we see the world as it is. The trouble is that the next guy, who votes the opposite of you thinks the same thing. We both can’t be right.
The more our lives are limited I believe by lack of education past high school, lack of travel around the world, lack of moving, lack of all those disparate experiences with people of different background and history, all the lack of inquisitiveness that we so often lose in the quest to “make a living,” come home to haunt us when we are confronted by serious issues that affect us all.
We can, it seems, only approach those issues, those conflicts, through our own lens of experience. We can only match and discard similarities and differences by the size of our bag of tricks. Those of us who have led small sheltered lives have a smaller and more personal opinion than those of us who have experienced the world in a wider way.
How did we get to this polarizing place that defines the American landscape? I’m convinced it happened with our generation and what appears to be a frightening reality.
Unlike virtually every previous generation, ours is the first to not improve our personal life style vis a vis our parents. We have turned back and are, if we are lucky, no worse than they, but certainly for most of us, no better.
That has caused most of us to stop in full stride and ask what has gone wrong in America? We were raised on the supposition that our lives would be richer and fuller than our parents. We would have more, travel more, know more. We would have more leisure. Our lives would be easier with more time for creative pursuits and family.
Instead, we are doing worse almost across the board. And when we reached that hard place of reality, we looked to why. We all saw that an extraordinary few got immeasurably richer, but the middle class lost significant ground, and the working class as much again. The poor grew. And we saw the imbalance, and we wondered why.
A significant portion of us realized that unbridled corporate greed and excess were the problem, and that the rich had negotiated a tax system that favored them against all others. They were now truly “filthy” rich. The gap grew wider and we blamed them and their penchant for homes by the dozen and yachts and diamonds. We believed that all humans were entitled to basics of food, clothing, housing, education, health care and decent jobs, and the rich were withholding that from us to profit themselves. We saw the solution in a redistribution of wealth. We saw it as justice and equality.
A significant portion of us however, saw things very differently. From a different up bringing, different location, different exposures, some came to a radically different conclusion. They concluded that it was government taxing and interference in the form of regulation that was stymieing their well being. They for reasons that are inexplicable to me, believed the words of the very people who had it all–the rich.
If only government allowed the free market economy to function untouched, all would be well, as the profits would “trickle” down to all. Why they believe this, I have no clue, but believe it they do. And today, we can barely converse with each other. We are nearing a place of plain hatred for the other side. We are ascribing to each other evil motives, evil designs, and unadulterated greed and selfishness. We are either that, or we are Utopian foggy headed children who live in a state of perpetual flower power.
I strain to see the logic of their beliefs. Some on the other side no doubt do the same as to me. But until we unscramble the presumptions we are secretly keeping, knowingly or not, we shall never grant to each other a modicum of “sincerity.” We shall forever ascribe selfish reasons.
This is not to say that each side is equally right. For indeed, one can still conclude after seeing the world view of another, that they are horridly wrong and why. But at least in understanding, we are ready to step into the breach with education and alternative experiences that can hopefully impact the thinking of those we now are poised to hate.
It’s how I feel today, but depending on what happens in Massachusetts today, I may not feel like playing at all tomorrow.