Black and White thinking: The recipe for Ineffective and Mediocre Presidential Leadership

There are certain people whose names rise to our lips when we think of great presidential leadership.  Presidents these days fail in comparison because the nature of elections continues to be dependent on money, therefore creating regurgitated rhetoric and stagnation. Because it takes money to be heard, the field of candidates is limited. We have two parties made up of people who either are wealthy or who are willing to sideline their own unique ideas to win the endorsements and funding of one of the two major parties. This silences the participation of alternative points of view that could come from alternative party representation and perspective.  http://www.apatheticvoter.com/PoliticalParties.htm

It is more than apparent that in order to secure longevity within the political process, elected officials learn to “play the game” and in doing so become part of the dysfunction.

Our two party system exists to balance the polar reality of one another. Together their opposing viewpoints create a kind of dysfunctional homeostasis. Adapted to the political social construct in America, and viewed as a system of balanced interaction, needed so that as a culture we do not descend into chaos, it creates a balance so that once one “position” is taken, the other “position” is created as an equal and opposite response. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeostasis . Stated through Sir Isaac Newton’s third Law of Motion “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” it describes the stalemate that occurs between the two competing and polar opposite stances taken by our political parties.  http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/newtlaws/u2l4a.cfm  The American public is exposed to just the two extremes and are therefore set up to be dissatisfied by their representation and the political process in general.

Think of the concept like a pendulum. When a pendulum swings it starts in one position but needs to swing to the polar opposite side to equalize the force of the swing. That action creates homeostasis by allowing the pendulum to continue to move between the two extreme positions.   Focusing on the two polar extremes within the pendulums track of movement represents splitting, a term used in psychology to express the acceptance of polar realities without an appreciation of the nuances that exist between. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splitting_%28psychology%29

Within the Republican party we can see this black and white thinking in the “flip flopping” undertaken by candidates and elected officials. The rapid vacillation between opposing ideas come from a limited perspective and is born of a system with few choices and little exercise in the open sharing of ideas. Reactions are commonplace because emotions run high and no thinking is required.

http://youtu.be/rsCmiFcRyIc

http://youtu.be/lwsZw-VjTNI

http://youtu.be/IimIWhExY0U

Our elected officials have been affected by life events that can make them more reactive than interactive to the situations around them . Without the need to think and keep the mind active in debates and open discussions, alternate points of view can trigger the need to “bully” the other side into submission. Those who choose to stand up to these tactics must do so carefully or they  can find themselves without a party affiliation.

http://www.usvetdsp.com/dec07/mccain_suicide_ptsd.htm

In contrast, backed by an intact party, elected officials get to speak their minds and gain the leverage so needed to move legislation. The good news is that the tactics being taken by the Republican party exposes their inability to effectively govern. The problem is that we as a country continue rehashing the same issues over and over, losing momentum and the true ingenuity needed to remedy our current problems. Democrats are stuck in the position of responding to the obstacles created by their polar reality, the Republican party. Nothing gets done and stagnation remains intact.

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The Social Construct of the Madman: A Eulogy of Christopher Dorner

We as a society want to simplify everything even though there is NOTHING simplistic about the nature of our violent social reality as of late. The problem is that violence, in any form, exists as A SYMPTOM of a society and culture out of control.  We are told how to think, feel, and act. We have a code of conduct for our work places as much as we do within our homes.  Many unspoken expectations  in  agencies and corporate entities within which we work lie in direct opposition to the policies and procedures within the agency written code of conduct. In fact, agency written policy and procedures are as helpful for navigating our places of work as the ethical considerations in the licenses and certifications that we hold. We are rewarded less by being able to comply with the written standards than we are for adhering to the unspoken political natures of our roles.

There is less and less time to understand the internal feelings that are generated by walking through this maze of conflicting expectations. We are expected to morph seamlessly from one social setting to another without confusing the expectations and stresses. We are told to “leave work at work” and “home at home”. We dissociate our identities into neat packages and perform in each without understanding the impact of the stress. For those of us who choose to live outside the  institutional and corporate code of behavior, who defy the often unspoken code of silence when faced with witnessing real human atrocities, intervention is swift and painful. We are harassed, ostracized, victimized and lose our professional status, our jobs and our futures.

Human experience is our greatest teacher but it means nothing if we are not allowed, or we actively CHOOSE not to take the time to reflect on its lessons and to adjust our actions to reflect personal integrity and ethical human living. We no longer think. We follow those with more power and the institutions that they represent. We walk around in a daze bombarded by life events and, as time goes on, become less and less able to deal with their meanings. We aren’t mentally present in our life anymore. We live based on perceptions and interpretations that originate outside of us. We give up an intact sense of self to gain acceptance in social interaction.

The anger generated within is borne out of a feeling of helplessness in a world in which the words, thoughts and actions of human beings are becoming less and less consequential in preserving personal autonomy and accountability in life. Without autonomy and a sense of self, we lose our power and become victims of the social institutions and postindustrial corporate complex on which we all depend. Without actively teaching the importance of boundaries between personal ethics and institutional monopoly of human drive and motivation, we lose all human ingenuity, responsibility and generativity, creating the passive and apathetic public we now know.

Corporations, social institutions and professionals all tell us what to do and how to do it. When there is a conflict between what we are told to do and what we know to be best, we abdicate the most important aspect of human experience, free will. Through this MINDLESSNESS we are losing the ability to know HOW to understand the importance of the experiences we have. Instead, we look to “professionals”. We consult self-help books that rehash the empty and disconnected feelings we struggle with and offer cookie cutter, simplistic interventions for what are cultural and systemic problems.

With the Citizen’s United ruling “corporations are people and money is voice”, real human input in cultural progress has been minimized and business ethics have gone by the wayside. With the wealth of this country being held by fewer and fewer people, more and more people have less and less power within their own lives. This external focus keeps us struggling to just meet our basic needs and willing to give up our morality to meet the financial obligations that we have amassed in our lives. Those of the ruling and judging elite reward us monetarily ONLY if we play by their rules regardless of who gets hurt in the process!

Christopher Dorner’s  life stands as a stark reflection of our violent annihilation of the human spirit and the costs created by the rage that lies beneath.

Where Trickle Down actually works

Back in the ’80’s, for those of us old enough to remember, Reagan promoted the idea that when corporate entities made money, they would pass on their good fortunes to  employees, their families, the communities in which they found themselves and the nation at large would reap the benefits. If you haven’t been paying any attention, Reagan’s theory didn’t work then and it sure as hell isn’t working now.

The evidence was already mounting as childhood poverty began to rise that deregulation might not be the great idea that “the great orator” sold us on. Despite the signs that suggested this tactic was yielding less than optimal results, the government began turning a blind eye to bank and corporate transgressions while increasing its   regulation and oversight of individuals. Thus began the enslavement of the American people through the devaluing of work, the hording of resources to a smaller and smaller portion of the population, and the selling of this evolution as being in the best interest of the American people.

With the recent United States Supreme Court Citizen’s United decision, we have in evidence the most blatant form of granting corporate supremacy, now sanctioned and upheld by government entities as the law of the land. When “Corporations are people and money is voice”, people will always lose. So while banks get bail-out dollars, individual consumers will be pursued  for infractions in contractual obligations on homes that were sold through deceptive practices. While corporations like BP will have to fork over fines for poisoning the Gulf of Mexico, individuals who have been prescribed medical marijuana for real medical conditions will face imprisonment and/or the loss of their children in state child protective proceedings. While the government will pull more and more oversight away from industrial complexes who are dumping poisons into our air and waterways affecting our health, they will stand by as government agencies launch drones to spy on our activities within our homes and communities. Now government, corporation and agency interests can LEGALLY take precedence over individual civil rights.

We have been seeing the erosion of individual rights since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Whereas factories with line staff have all but disappeared, the need for subservient workers has not. Our social institutions have been established to ensure compliance not ingenuity. Regurgitation of facts is preferred to the intellectual debate that encourages the thinking process. We test by multiple choice and mark down for originality of thought. Our great thinkers, like Albert Einstein, who were dyslexic and slightly hyperactive (from sheer boredom in our classrooms) are now seen as a challenge, medicated and whisked away into Special Education classrooms that dulls their senses and slows their mind.

In order to survive in this society we are expected to parrot the corporate and agency interests in the places in which we find employment. Stanley Milgram was able to demonstrate the power that authority had to influence individual decision making. Through his study he proved that someone perceived to be in a position of authority could ask subjects to inflict pain on other participants without raising questions about the ethics or morality in the request to do so. (http://youtu.be/BcvSNg0HZwk). Within our corporations and agencies employees abdicate their moral and ethical convictions to appease the powers that be thereby maintaining their employment  to the detriment of both colleagues, and clients alike. Within these expectations we find the foundational aspects that have eroded our humanity. While Milgram’s experiment took place  in 1961 long before deregulation of banks and corporations, just one ruling has given those entities a jolt of support equivalent to the effect that doping has on superior athletes. We are witness to not just the erosion of civil rights, we are also witness to the sanction of that erosion by national, state and local government agencies and providers. Within this last election buffered by the Citizen’s United ruling, corporations even felt at liberty to tell their employees how to vote. Politicians, mimicking corporate interests, who received corporate payouts almost succeeded in suppressing voter participation in several key states.

Within our homes we have less and less time for each other. We look for evidence that our children are succeeding without investing in the process to make it so. We want intimacy and loyalty but come off as distant, uninvolved, and uninterested. We fault our children for the very issues that we fail to recognize and deal with ourselves. We are ashamed of ourselves so look for ways to blame, ridicule and ostracize others.  While it seems rights and safeguards flow upward, the bulk of the struggle for existence will continue to TRICKLE DOWN!

If Manti Te’o is Gay or not IS NOT THE ISSUE

Social expectations come early for all of us. We are taught to accept what is told to us because we find out that we are most likely to get what we need by parroting what those around us say. Since we are busy mimicking those around us who have the ability to bestow on us that which we need most; from the most basic needs like food, shelter and clothes when we are young, to the more ephemeral needs in attaining meaning, self knowledge and self awareness, we find ourselves performing to meet extreme social standards and are taken off course in our own development. That creates a chasm between the role we play, the expectations that we are held to, and who we really are. And so we have the Manti Te’os of the world.

The illusion that Manti was able to create ensured his status and he thrived. But the energy that was consumed in performing the role plagued him and made him question himself.  At some point he faced a social situation in which his truth would be exposed. Unsure of himself because of years of listening to others and coming to the awareness that he was not who he and others claimed him to be, he felt ashamed. The motivation for the story of Lennay Kekua was born.

Our voyeuristic and gossiping nature precedes the rest of us. We lack authenticity in our own lives so we salivate at the mere mention of drama in other’s lives.  We cheer the rise of stars, living vicariously on their ability to rise above it all. But we are as unrealistic with our expectations as the organizations that script celebrity behavior. So, Manti, Lance, and Tiger have been forced to play the role created as much by us as the organizations and corporate entities they represent. When inconsistencies in celebrity behavior are exposed instead of feeling compassion we begin the feeding frenzy of speculation and gossip, demonizing the celebrity and contributing to his downfall.

So as Manti struggles with the increasing pressure of being under a microscope, we sit back and dissect his every move without regard of the continued stress that is mounting for him. We are mere observers in ours and Manti’s life story. We lack the integrity to realize the problem we perpetuate with the social standards that we support. Those who dare to rise in status and are most visible in that role are the most easy to scapegoat. By holding people like Manti accountable for their misdeeds without any other consideration, we fail to take notice or even address the social issues that develop their roles in the first place.

Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey MS, MAC, LMHC

The Reason we will not Learn from Sandy Hook

Face it, it is hard to look at yourself with a critical eye. After all, we live in a world where we face criticism more often then compliments. We are evaluated for deficits before we are thanked for our contributions. We navigate our lives in compliance of social expectations and pack away the critical voices all around us. To stand up for ourselves is unthinkable and punishable through a wide range of options that range from job and income loss to incarceration. And then we witness Sandy Hook…

We ask ourselves how something like Sandy Hook can happen despite the fact the  answer is closer than we would like to think. We focus on the “craziness” of the gunman without considering the string of gunmen that have preceded him. We distance ourselves from “those people” and talk about guns and mental illness. We link obscure variables of the incident to the key reason that the carnage took place. Those in power attempt to have control over the issue by focusing on those who own guns. In response, those who own guns defend their right to bear arms and target people mental health diagnoses suggesting developing a “registry” for the mentally ill. We are becoming closer and closer to the reality of the meaning that the wearing the Star of David has for Jews. And yet, we are no closer to the answer now then we were before the incident.

The answer lies within the fabric of our culture. The desire for financial security has opened us to become victims of apathy. We are educated without having to think. We gain prestige and upward mobility by spouting the ideas of those who employ us. We lack an understanding of ourselves and are placated through the acquisition of things. We question no one because we lack the self knowledge and moral fiber to know that we should. We ally ourselves with those who grant us what financial means we can acquire so that we can continue to band-aid our vacant soul. We regurgitate the words that those in power use because that assures us continued financial well-being. We know that our ability to succeed will depend on how well we parrot those sentiments.

We choose to uphold “social stability” through victimizing others who do not work for financial security. We have developed ways of ostracizing these people as undesirables; the disabled, the mentally ill, the criminal, minorities, illegal aliens, women. We know the undesirables by these names and others. We find ways to make their ascension in our culture more difficult. Why? Because we agree with the unspoken belief that they want a “free ride”, “hand-outs” and are “lazy”. We harbor hatred for helping those we deem unfit to receive it. When we do help, even in social service organizations, we expect change to happen in a particular time frame to our own specifications. As removed as we are from power, we feel the right to provide human services, mentor and parent in an authoritarian manner in which we remain in control, the expert of someone else’s reality and by its very definition doomed to fail.

Our children, our clients and students are affected by this lack of concern in their welfare whether it is ever voiced or not. With each and every generation that follows the mounting confusion and pain is evident. It is evident in the increasing obesity problems, the domestic violence within our homes, the continuing addiction statistics, rape, suicide and yes, Sandy Hook.

Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey MS, MAC, LMHC