Here is the first in a series of blog posts that will be partly serious and partly crazy, culled from my hard drive (LCARS) as I attempt to put it in some better order, and also just get rid of some of it. There will be no theme, no order, and little to no sense to the imagery. There will be photos and materials extending back at least to 2003.
The text here is from February 16, 2017. Little has changed in two years. The photos and images were taken or collected in 2011. The photos of me are from February, so just about eight years ago, shortly before I would leave my east coast home for...this place, and also shortly before peri-menopause began. All indications point toward that being over after exactly eight years, in June. A lot of me has changed since then, but I plan to at least get my 2011 figure back by the end of summer.
"Last night when I pointed out one small but important distinction between our former president’s immigration policy in 2011 and the one employed this weekend, the reply, from a complete stranger with whom I’d had no previous discourse, was “you hate trump so you want to believe wrong things!” That’s nearly an exact quotation. Probably you said a different word than things, which is a habit word of mine.
"To my way of thinking, this is akin to me saying, “Well, some ketchup doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it,” and you replying with, “you just hate hot dogs!”
"At first I dismissed the idea that we could have any sort of rational conversation, you being a little keyed up and unwilling to consider some middle ground or examine motivations objectively.
"But what if we could do that? Here are some ideas and points I’d like you to think about and consider.
"Suppose you learn of an important event in world news and you want to learn more about it, so you Google it and see a list of links to read. If you are an objective curious person, you’ll choose several of them, and not just the one at the top, as someone likely paid for it to be there. But you won’t just launch into reading the page. First you’ll see who wrote it, and who sponsored that writing. What do you know about them? What is their background in policy education or journalism? And then as you read the material, you’ll think about whether they are citing what we call “primary sources,” with links to those sources, or whether they are repeating words written by someone else who got them from someone else.
"You’ll also think about whether the language in the piece is objective, or whether emotional or inflammatory words and phrases are used. Is the writer attempting to make you believe something, or is he or she stating facts backed by primary data? Has the writer also drawn from more than one source of information? Are conclusions drawn at the end of the piece, or has the writer concluded only with a summation of what he or she presented? If there are conclusions, do they logically reflect the information offered? Do they insist that you draw the same conclusion, or do they leave it for you to decide on your own?
"In reading the several pieces you’ve chosen, do you find yourself searching for a point of view you’d like to see represented? Do you automatically dismiss writing which indicates either a different point of view, or facts that would negate the one you wish to be correct?
"How do you decide who to trust? Are you generally a trusting sort of person, or do you tend toward suspicion of others, particularly others with a different point of view from your own?
"There are two very general reasons people mistrust others. First, because the others make them uncomfortable. This might be due to previous experiences that ended badly; we’ve all had our share of those. The brain employs a defense mechanism when it perceives a threat, warning us against it, and that is a good thing. But sometimes our brains are kinda superficial excitable organs, picking up inessential details and forming a picture with them that isn’t really very accurate or that doesn’t leave room for variables we don’t yet know. It’s being overprotective, and that isn’t a good thing. When that happens, we have to slow down our words or actions and make sure we’re not letting confused feelings get in the way of critical thinking. But how do we recognize when that’s happening? Back to that in a minute.
"The other general reason people might be mistrusting of others is because they have a habit of being untrustworthy themselves. It’s not nice to say, but it is a reality. If you steal things or tell lies, you will decide other people do, too, because you want to not be the only person who does these things, and also because you spend a lot of time covering for your words and actions, and you are always looking to see if anyone else is suspicious of you. You become suspicious of them, as a result. You might even end up seeking out other people who do lie or steal, because you’re more comfortable with them. Then as a group, you might collectively decide that’s just how most people are. We prefer to think most people are like us, because we want to like ourselves as we are.
"I would prefer to think most mistrustful people are like the first group, instead. I like to think well of people. I don’t think poorly of people because they look different than me, as a simple example, and I wouldn’t want them to think poorly of me for looking different from them. I can understand that if someone who looks different hurt you, the scared overprotective part of your brain might wish to assume others with a similar appearance are also dangerous, but you have a rational side, too, which should tell you that different appearance wasn’t the reason you were harmed.
"Knowing that, rationally, would you choose to harm someone merely because they look different from you? We know the sad truth is that people sometimes do. It is an irrational behavior.
"So how do you recognize when you’re letting emotion or your brain’s overprotective prejudices override critical thinking? I’m not an expert in these matters, but I’ve thought about it a lot as my kids grew up. We have likes and dislikes, formed from what we’re exposed to, what appeals to our senses, and our natural inclinations, of course. We don’t think about why we love a certain food; we just do. If it’s a “treat food,” which is how I’d describe it to a child, we know as adults we should have only a certain amount of it, or at certain times. We negotiate with ourselves; I will have a piece of cheesecake because I ate a great kale salad and a hearty but lowfat soup for lunch. Most of us don’t always get it right. We’re impulsive, and easily enticed by the sight and/or smell of something rich-tasting, but nutritionally unsound.
"If you are biased, as we generally all are, you will, just like the liars and thieves, seek out others who share your bias. Do your biases lean toward negativity or positivity? Then so will the mood of the group you’re sharing them with. But if you are also committed to objectivity, you will seek out others who try to be that way, as well. And those are the people who can and maybe should influence your biases the most. You must be honest with yourself for this to work. You must be prepared for the point of view you prefer to be sometimes wrong or even harmful to others, and you should be willing to change your mind when that occurs. It requires a degree of humility."
So here you go, this is what you're going to get from me for the next little while, though mostly on not at all serious topics. I just had that one sitting nearby and wanted to attach it to something. Maybe it'll help you talk to someone or idk, anyway.