Globalism / Protectionism / Diplomacy / Peace

Peace is hard work.  It is great to say you want peace but what does it take?  There are naturally discussions among countries and disputes over resources, territory, religion, economic systems that make it hard to have peace.

The Internal Struggle

It is often not the external part of diplomacy that is the hardest but the internal struggle.  The ability of each country to sell caring about the world, vulnerability and effort, to its own people and against those that would try to usurp them internally using “us first” and “winning” type language.  The art of diplomacy, having frank discussions and maintaining respect is an art that is somewhat well understood, but can fall apart from internal pressure.

Value Diplomacy or Tribal (Us vs Them)?

Value diplomacy is creating a culture of agreed upon values upon which the players or tribes agree to.  Combating aggression, helping those that need help, global sustainability are some of the values countries come together on. 

Tribal diplomacy is about the pride of the tribe.  You want to protect the pride of your tribe from any insecurity or shame and you want to win for your tribe by imperialism, winning every deal, and creating a need for spite around every disagreement.  In any resource disagreement the other side is on its own.

There is a temptation to use nationalism, racism, religion, economic system etc. to divide and make another tribe the enemy.  To ascend the hierarchy in your tribe by putting your identity in vilifying the different and unfamiliar.  You unite your tribe around the enemy.

Value diplomacy is central to peace but it requires brainwork and courage.  Other countries might call you a hypocrite and point out wrongs in your history.  You might get trolled from the insecure.

Globalism / Protectionism

We are all part of groups or tribes from your family, to your work, to your community, to sports teams you cheer for.  In politics we can visualize our political reality as groups within groups.

#1 >>> Family >>> Community >>> Region >>> Country (where armies are) >>> Earth / Humanity

Protectionism – doing whatever is self-serving for your group and ignoring the at large collective.  A culture of self-serving doesn’t stop at the smaller group, it stops at everyone looking out for #1.

Globalism / Collectivismeach smaller group is a supporter of the larger group.  The larger group is expected to both help the smaller groups when they are in need as well as ask of the smaller group when the larger group or others are in need.

What kind of world does each mentality lead to?  Do we want to create a culture of coming together in the face of fear or splintering?  What kind of unity is it really to bond with another group over a common enemy but if there is any resource dispute with that group you go for each other’s heads?

Some use the term globalist as slander, but in truth most of those willing to give for earth / humanity are of the same mind as those willing to give for country or community. 

In moral conflicts globalists are the aggressor.  Standing up to aggression, environmental causes, human rights, refugees.  In pride, tribal, or resource conflicts protectionists are the aggressor such as wars over religious/economic beliefs, oil, or revenge.  The American protectionists during WWII were strictly isolationists (no desire to save the world from aggression) until the United States was attacked at pearl harbor.

In a true hour of need we should not look to the allies we have made that push up our pride and play to our fears with us.  It is those countries telling us to behave ourselves and that stand for hard values that may be there.

Globalism begets globalism, protectionism begets protectionism.

This is not to say a country shouldn’t stand for its own interests, just like in your family you stand for yourself of course, but it is a culture of mental engagement and goodwill.

Countries with transparency into their decision making with active debates and elections will be trusted more than those with a concentration of power, a one-party system, a dictatorship that doesn’t expose itself to the vulnerability of public discourse.

Image Reference

Shutterstock: ChristianChan

Giving Hope to What We Can’t See

We all interact and see interactions of people willing to act in goodwill with people they can see.  If you know somebody’s story, see their face, you are more apt to help them.  If they look familiar to you, worship the same religion, abide by the culture you will be more giving.  A service industry worker will do better receiving tips than a flat pay.  If someone in your life is struggling you may help them based on their needs and abilities.

But in society we also need to give hope to those we can’t see.  Humanity is generally good at helping those within its own village but when natural economic conditions segregate society, dealing with forced goodwill (taxes), or dealing with goodwill outside the circle of the army (other countries) goodwill is not as easy to come by but it is still important.

Every year the United States government spends more than charities do on goodwill including Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment, housing etc.  It also subsidizes charitable giving.  This doesn’t include Social Security or Medicare because those are just more dignified ways of taking for our seniors than everyone doing it privately and everyone may benefit from these programs. 

It is impossible to tell everyone’s story and it can be easy to create cynicism about forced goodwill but what kind of culture and society does hope to the bottom create or cynicism to the bottom?  How meaningful is cherry-picking or otherwise creating cynical stories about government goodwill?  Is it realistic that voluntary goodwill can plug all the needed holes alone?

The government does a lot of heavy lifting on goodwill and charities fill in the cracks, together this goodwill is an important part of who we are, our soul, and what we wish the country to stand for.

For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we’re all connected as one people.

If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we’re all connected as one people.

E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

President Barack Obama (2004 Convention Speech)

Image Reference

Adobe Stock / Ipopba

Pulling Society Toward Goodwill

Getting people to use their brains to associate positive aspects of society with doing the right thing.

Humility – looking past the initial dagger to one’s pride and seeing the bigger picture.

Caring / Love – don’t exist without accepting others and ourselves own faults.  A judgeless relationship.

Hope – taking the vulnerable or hard work position when faced with unknowns such as doing something new, relationships, dreaming, safety net.

Joy – a group putting in work or giving into hope and having it come to fruition.  Accepting one another.

Engaging – doing brainwork to understand where each other is coming from and acting in goodwill.

Sportsmanship – we like to compete for earned pride but we also protect the opponent’s pride.  Games of pride make us feel alive but they should all exist under some moral fabric.

Working Pride – pride that comes from hard work, accomplishing something over time.

Education – putting in brainwork to accept the right answer over the temptation.

Respect / Manners – putting in work to raise society up and away from crudeness, grumpiness, boys club etc.

Courage / Honor / Integrity – facing fear for the collective, overcome convenience and toward doing the right thing.  Honor doesn’t exist in a society that refuses to accept shame.

General Work – putting ourselves to work (viewed as attractive) to avoid making hell at the expense of others, unattractive laziness, gossip, judging.  Even in biblical times there are warnings of undesirable outcomes from idleness and gossiping.  With communication now at hyper speed, news everywhere and social media everywhere it doesn’t lead us to putting our best foot forward always.

Energy – The end of slavery, the environmental movement, civil rights, women’s right to vote, 40 hour work weeks, worker safety, a progressive tax system, food stamps etc. do not happen by themselves.  They are made to happen.  It takes both energy in the form of activism, free speech, political movements and a good clear message and educating others on what you want to change.

“Things don’t happen, they are made to happen”

John F. Kennedy

The key to a successful society is to not let our emotions control us.  In many cases we have to use our own moral compass to overwrite an initial fear, convenient answer, or desire to avoid a problem.  Like a defiant child maturing and realizing some of the joys that can be had in buying into the work needed to be a contributing member of the family or team, there is no reason we can’t move past this phase into something more hopeful, more joyful.  A group united in its enemies of compassion and foreignness is not a group worth existing in.

Image Reference

Shutterstock: STILLFX

Pulling Society Away from Goodwill

Some of the ways we as a society are divided and pulled away from goodwill, purpose, harmony and joy:

Note that in politics the reason and the strategy are different.  For example, slander is a strategy not a motive.  Using crowds and creating energy can be viewed as a strategy for any reason. Suppressing dissenting voices can be a strategy of any regime in power whether it believes its end goals are good or bad.  Pride, convenience, and fear are both strategies and motives.  For example, if you are mostly motivated by convenience (tax cuts) but you need votes, you might play up an immigration fear as a strategy or insecurity in foreign affairs.  Voter suppression, gerrymandering congressional districts and playing games with court seats are all strategies.

Greed – Seeking pride and convenience through monetary means at the expense of the ecosystem, seeking security (fear avoidance).

Convince others society isn’t selfless / compassionate – if society isn’t viewed as selfless it will convince us to not be a fool and look out for ourselves as well.

Distrust – playing up distrust to the collective and playing up individualism – guns, money, hording, conspiracy theories.

Immigration Fears – creating fear around something complex to get votes.

Strong on crime – creating fear around something complex to get votes.

Economic fears – using the economy or jobs as a fear creator without supplying proper brainwork.

Bringing others down to your level – if you feel you and your group are engaging in something you are not supposed to, you want everyone involved to make you feel more secure.

Exploiting – vote for me and I’ll exploit this country / entity.  I was good at exploiting the system for my company so I can do the same for country.  Making up reasons on why environmental, fiscal or other ecosystems need to be exploited.

Limited Resources – Given goodwill will try to provide for all, you convincing the voting majority that there is a limited resource and if we try to provide for all it will burden the majority.  Examples include healthcare, oil, food stamps, general taxes, water out west etc.

Avoiding accountability – never putting yourself in the brainwork, vulnerability position.  Always having a fall person.

Pride over principles – Turning your political reality away from principles and into “winning” for your tribe. Being a country of principles should be an inspiring reality.  The human heart drives peace but the brain is the peacemaker.  If you chose the self-serving non vulnerable solution for every disagreement and forsake the brain, never-ending war is inevitable.

To owe or to be owed? – it can feel insecure to feel like we owe someone a debt.  That we owe something for the society we are given.  Some will use terms like “taxpayer” to sell an idea of being owed.  The idea of me and my boys are wronged anytime the government does something of goodwill is attractive to some.  A military draft is a great ask of a country upon a family.  Using the tax system to plug a hole so someone can put food on the table isn’t. Those actually in need rarely use an entitled tone.

“A full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Associating wealth absolutely with work – We view work in a positive light and laziness in a negative light.  That doesn’t mean all wealth is worked equally hard for or that we should give up on all of those that need a hand up, or those that need help aren’t willing to work hard in the right environment.  This mindset is oversimplifying and attempts to remove our obligations to those in need.  For example, an Ayn Rand novel.

Stubbornness / Avoiding necessary change – change requires overcoming the fear of the unknown, the inconvenience of brainwork, and overcoming pride that an existing behavior needs changed.

Strongmen/Insecurity – Our insecurity in foreign affairs leads us to be attracted to those promising wins and strength in the face of any foreign disagreement, trade negotiation, disputed territory etc.  We want to see scowls, tough talk, and simple answers in our diplomacy over respect, understanding problems and a will for all countries to be successful.  Giving in to this leads to cold wars, trade wars, actual wars, etc.  Diplomacy is an imperfect art but its greatest adversary is the internal struggle from each country to empower it.  Any decision to have your group put in some effort for those outside the group requires vulnerability which the temptation is to avoid.

Electing the strongman doesn’t lead to freedom…quite the opposite.

  1. Elect strongman selling pride, fear, and protection from insecurity
  2. Be afraid of strongman and avoid brainwork/vulnerability, do whatever he says
  3. No morality around to save anyone by way of compassion
  4. His excuses are the law, the actual law doesn’t matter
  5. Dictatorship

Under taxing – it is very hard to have a quality discussion on the federal budget or taxes.  How can you be knowledgeable about the entire budget?  It is also quite foreign in that much of it is misunderstood by the public and controlled by people foreign to us.  Likewise, its effect on the economy is not well understood.  This leads to many picking the most cynical and convenient outcome and using words like common sense, stick within its means, intuitive etc. 

Group supremacy – It can be attractive to be told you are special and you can be part of a group not burdened by morality or homework and win against groups you choose to dehumanize.  Nationalism, gangs, Enron cultures in business are ways you might achieve pride for yourself at the expense of the greater good.

Racism / Ostracizing minorities – being uncomfortable with foreign behaviors and beliefs, a desire for supremacy to another group, a common enemy to unite your group around.

Cynicism – The message in cynicism is you are a fool if you believe the answer is effort, work, hope, understanding, mental engagement.  The fiscal conservative message is largely based on this notion of being cynical around either the safety net, federal institution efficiency, or resources going outside the group without putting much, if any work into understanding the situation.

Spinning words and literature – taking a word or literature that has a positive or negative view from society and giving it another definition without giving the definition.  Family, support the troops, Christianity, patriotism.  In normal discussions these mean giving but not in always in politics.  Family can mean acting selfishly. Support the troops can mean don’t question the war.  You can remove the values from religion and turn it into winning and believe a story. Freedom and liberty can mean freedom from hierarchical oppression or freedom from moral obligations.  Being told what to do in either case creates the same feeling right? America itself can just mean things that make you feel good and are familiar or it can mean something of substance, with values.  Some will emphasize Islamic terrorism or communism to create a simplistic us vs them culture even though the moral wrongs of the groups they reference have little to do with religion or the communist ideology.

Personal Takedowns – it can be much easier to take down the individual making the inconvenient argument than to go after the argument itself.  Political questions by nature involve uncertainty such as healthcare, foreign policy, safety net effectiveness.  Once you demonize the people of the day standing for idealism you then use their names as slander, as something to defeat.  Focusing on gaffes or perceived gaffes instead of ideas.

“I understood the infamous spiritual terror which this movement exerts, particular on the bourgeoisie, which is neither morally nor mentally equal to such attacks; at a given sign it unleashes a veritable barrage of lies and slanders against whatever adversary seems most dangerous, until the nerves of the attacked persons break down….This is a tactic based on precise calculation of all human weaknesses, and its result will lead to success with almost mathematical certainty.”

Adolf Hitler

Other Methods – These were used in Hitler’s 1939 speech in response to FDR asking if 31 surrounding countries are under threat prior to the start of WWII or general techniques the Nazis used in annexing territory prior to armed conflict. He is certainly not the only bad actor to use these techniques.

  • Calling goodwill a hypocrite (US revolution, Indians, Civil War)
  • Doesn’t goodwill have better things to do?
  • My group has been wronged. (Treaty of Versailles after WWI)
  • Intimidate the groups you want to bully and ask them if they feel threatened. (Hitler writes all the countries under threat and “asks” them if they feel threatened.)
  • Make agreements you have no intent to keep and blame the other side when you want to break them.
  • Taking over territory is “liberating” it.
  • Germany is coming in to protect the Germans in the area from getting bullied in stories you make up.

Prejudice – definition: preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

Another definition: Pick the emotionally attractive solution without engaging the brain, usually to avoid problems, avoid fear, avoid change, rebellion against authority, to give into the strongman, or pick the self-serving solution.

Prejudice exists in some form around many tribal belief systems but some of the belief systems themselves were created with prejudice and some were not.  Some morality systems are based on giving and some are not.

Tribalism multiplies temptation or goodwill

  • If it is hard to act in goodwill and not with pride it is harder to ask your tribe to do the same.
  • Once you are in a group that justifies immorality in favor for pride it is hard to stop that snowball.
  • Work or courage for the group is contagious and can bring joy.
  • Honor systems can be effective and warm one’s heart.

Image Reference

Shutterstock: Lightspring

How We Are Divided

We have to come to grips with what the world is.  The world is not divided over differing philosophies or different views. The only way to properly frame and simplify our political reality is through the human conscience.

The Right Thing

  • Values/Brainwork before Pride/Convenience/Fear
  • Defined by caring
  • Sustainability
  • Pull each other up
  • Economy for all
  • Protect the vulnerable
  • World Perspective
  • No enemies, Mend Fences
  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Share in Joy
  • Forgive
  • Stand up to International Aggression
  • Courage

Political Temptation

  • Prisoners of Pride/Convenience/Fear
  • Unquestioned loyalty to chief pride seller/protector
  • Defined by enemies
  • Fear of Foreign
  • Fear of Change
  • Defiance to Moral Authority
  • Do Gooder Hate
  • Avoid Vulnerability
  • Avoid Problems
  • Kiss up, kick down
  • Cynicism
  • Under-taxing
  • Joy/utopia is undesirable (requires vulnerability and brainwork), focus on us > them
  • Exploit weaker groups
  • Against standing up to other aggressor groups

It may not feel good to have an authority tell you to behave and contribute, and it may be tempting to go with those that offer easy answers, convince you of your native importance, and protection from the unfamiliar, but this is a dark road.

If we can convince the world to be value driven, we will be able to live in peace, to make sure the basic needs of all are met and avoid desperation/violence.  If we do not have the strength and courage to stand up for these values then those attracted by easy answers will steer us toward unsustainable futures, asset bubbles, cold wars, ignoring problems that shouldn’t be ignored, and dehumanizing those who shouldn’t be dehumanized.

Our subconscious, our gut, our intuition is really a bunch of shortcuts we have developed over our evolution to circumvent hard brainwork.  Many of these shortcuts serve pride, convenience and fear.  Some serve compassion, pattern following and logic.  Just because you feel good or bad about something doesn’t mean you have to obey that feeling. Sometimes we have to use our brains to overwrite that emotion. In our politics we have to do the hard brainwork.  If you wish to persuade others or create art look to understand the subconscious.

It is better to refer to our political system as empowering values or temptation as opposed to trying to create any us vs them.  It isn’t so much one group vs another group but a fight going on in everyone’s mind.  It can be more persuasive to create a picture of the world and a picture of possible futures than to tell others to behave themselves.

3rd parties are ever trying to enter into the two-party system but that is a bastardized situation.  You want this temptation over here but morality over here.  When you empower temptation, you empower all the temptations in a two party system. 

Not the Enemy

  • Different Nations
  • Different Races
  • Different Religions
  • Different Lifestyles

Also Not the Enemy

  • Cares about the Environment
  • Cares about other Countries
  • Cares about the Vulnerable
  • Cares about Pay Fors (Taxes)
  • Your mom telling you to clean your room

Stand up to

  • Those abusing you or others to their own benefit

While some may think the solution to our partisan divide is to get together and hash it out, this belies the fundamental nature of what is.  Tribalism combined with temptation will seldom subject itself to the vulnerability needed in a compromise.  Many in that mindset would rather spite goodwill and the entire group than compromise.

In order to bring down partisanship we have to be assertive with the aggressor and our values.  That requires being disagreeable at times, making others feel insecure because you have to, and taking on the resulting spite. Silencing those standing for what is right will not end conflict.  When it is apparent society wishes for “the right thing” partisanship will fall.

How to end arguments / partisanship

  • Tell the 2 parties to stop and work it out
  • Think about why the confrontation occurred
  • Be assertive with the aggressor and your values

The principle argument of this work is

  1. Our politics is split along the human sense of right and wrong
  2. The right thing is desirable

It may be more attractive to align with those seeking pride for you, or sit in the middle and have both sides cater to you, but the right thing to do is align with the people trying to do the right thing and ask yourself how you can help.

Image Reference

Shutterstock – Nerthuz

Standing for What’s Right

There are many ways to give back to society, from working a job, to raising a family to helping the community, to donating time and money to various causes.  You can risk your life as a police officer, firefighter, or in the military. One very important way for us to give back is to stand up for our values when temptation tries to bring them down.  This can be a tough discussion with a family member over an addiction or behavior, it can be asking your group to put in some effort for some just cause, and it manifests in the partisan divide we live in, fighting for what is right against those that will seek to put out your light the moment you turn it on.

Being a moral authority can be anything from encouraging others to eat healthy, be active, to sustainability, to needed tax increases, to preventing forest fires, to not littering, saving the rainforest, prevent poaching, to treating others with respect.  Partaking in any of these risks backlash.  Human beings protect their pride with anger, cynicism, and put downs.

When society lacks strong figures standing for what’s right it falls for dictators, pride, protectionism, and a politics controlled by pride and fear and not by collective goodwill.  Positive forces in politics are about brainwork, respect, values, and standing for values in the face of spite.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Image Reference

United States National Park Service

Political Temptation – Pride, Convenience, and Fear

Things that prevent society from achieving harmony are temptations to that objective.  Temptations are reasons to go against the greater good of the group, self-serving over the greater good, convenience over what is right, giving into fear over doing the right thing.

The written law is actually a code to ensure we don’t give into many temptations at the expense of the group.  Whether that is theft, assault, murder or business practices like building codes, environmental regulations, labor regulations and safety regulations.  The law encourages all of us to be a better form of ourselves by identifying temptations, ensuring they are not taken, and enforced if needed.  Yes, some self-destructive habits such as drugs are included because we are a society that cares for each other.  Watching one self-destruct at the mercy of a drug hurts the collective.

Not all temptations are in the law, however.  In politics, there are temptations such as under-taxing, giving into the powerful at the expense of the vulnerable, seeking pride by forsaking morality, and forgoing diplomacy.  If cops and judges are the enforcer of the written law then goodwill politicians are those who fight against these temptations. In truth, the law only matters if human beings say it matters.  Otherwise it can be the excuse given by the strongman that dictates law.

Framing some political temptations:

Themes around pride, convenience, and fear can be created when thinking about temptation and things that pull us away from harmony.

Fear of the Foreign/Unknown – We grow fond of what is familiar and fear what we don’t understand.  Some of our greatest fears are ill founded based on what could be. Some leaders play off these fears using different races, nations, religions, immigration, lifestyles to divide us to their own ends. We would rather give into the strongmen we are familiar with than deal with the unknown.  When there is needed change in society fear stands in the way, but it is being stagnant that has brought the downfall of many more countries and companies than proactive change.  Even in hostage situations the hostages will eventually look to the hostage taker for security.

Fear of pride vulnerability – Avoiding the doctor, avoiding asking for help, avoiding confrontation, taking the fearful/non vulnerable position in things that are uncertain like federal spending, diplomatic relations, or the safety net.  Giving up on hope.

Protecting Pride / Insecurity / Defiance to Moral Authority / Spite – The greatest driver of partisanship. Supporting left wing policies can be similar to creating a marketing campaign for a child to clean his room. It’s not necessarily a logical problem but an emotional problem, especially when many are willing to support our rebellious tendencies.  Those telling us to care for each other, the environment, the poor, sustainability, don’t litter, eat healthy, prevent forest fires are not the enemy.  Distaste toward Hollywood activists, do good cars, do good diets, elites etc. falls in this category.  Short of actual fear, the need for humans to protect their pride and their insecurities is a high priority.

Right wing rally support for oil drilling and coal mining isn’t an altruistic support for those laborers.  They are protecting their own pride.  Conservative media are those willing and able to act with confidence to put down the name idealists and goodwill thinkers of the day, thus protecting the pride of the listener.  The more confident and angrier they are, the more popular and better they are able to carry out this purpose. 

How anger is created in politics:

Causes >>>  Goodwill/Thought/Conscience >>> Change/Resources >>> Insecurity/Fear >>> Anger/Spite >>> Counter Anger/Frustration from Goodwill

Going after counter anger will not solve anything.  That is the last step.  The insecurity and fear leading to anger must be addressed.  A society with meaning, purpose, and joy doesn’t exist without the capability to have shame.

Cheap Group Pride – Becoming part of a group that dehumanizes others.  You are special because you were born this way or are part of this group that is better than others.  A way to achieve pride without doing creative work or facing fear.  Bringing down the pride of those around you to increase yours…bullying, imperialism, gangs, Enron culture in business.

Seeking Pride – Seeking authority and power for yourself or your group at the expense of greater civilization and its values, power tripping.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Convenience – Stress and Problem Avoidance – when we have a problem or an insecurity, we want it to go away.  Words like family or jobs or economy can be used as excuses and fear creators to avoid problems of the day.  Freedom, liberty and the constitution (by extension) can be used as excuses to avoid moral obligations.

Convenience – Individual or smaller group before the collective – protectionism, acting in a lazy manner, dehumanizing others that may place a burden on you.  Putting instant gratification over the long term such as tax cuts and asset bubbles.

Convenience / Protecting Pride – Simplifying and Dividing Around Absolutes – simplifying your political identity into an all-in position on a moral gray area the human conscience doesn’t understand.  Moving away from hard truths on things that are important to an absolute on something that doesn’t require work or courage.

Convenience – Common Enemy – Many times in groups we are highly sensitive to not talking bad about anyone within the group but talk smack of others to create a common enemy to bring the group together around.  Gossip and our inability to keep secrets are also related to trying to form bonds. 

Line of logic: By taking this stance I belong to this tribe as defined by our enemy (this tribe) and I create my place in my tribe by spiting the enemy.

Image References

Insecurity – The Driver of Spite and Anger, Acceptance – The Driver of Joy (Framed Within Politics)

Think of times you get angry.  What is your mental state? How do you react and why?

Insecurity is a driver of anger.  Has someone disapproved of your behavior? Do you feel inferior or jealous of another’s success? Do you need to keep up with the Jones’ with your house or toys? Have you ever put a lot of work into something and it been for naught or disapproved of? Work and hope later denied can drive one mad.

How about if you have a weight problem? How do gyms and beech body fitness make you feel? Or someone confronting you on alcohol or drug abuse? How about someone that is good at something, knows it, but is boastful and arrogant about it?  We are much more attracted to self deprecating behavior.

In an argument what is really happening? Somebody has put you down and now you need to think of the meanest thing possible to put them down.  To protect your pride through reciprocating spite.

How about if you are worried of a vulnerability of yours.  You did something wrong.  You have a handicap, a weakness but are accepted nonetheless.  It will give you some joy.

What if you put a lot of work into something?  Some real creative thinking and/or work that you aren’t copying anyone else and put something out there and it is approved of…. now you have joy squared.  If you learn to accept who you are and not worry about comparisons you will live a happier life.

How about in politics?  Our two-party system is largely a continuing argument driven by insecurity over change and resources to address causes. If someone tells you tax dollars are wasted, how do you feel? Do you instantly believe them?   What if a politician tells you a behavior needs changed, more tax dollars needed, we need to be diplomatic to a perceived enemy, we need to give resources to help another outside our borders? Insecurity all over the place.

What if in the same way we accept ourselves we accept our government? We give hope to those in need and the goodwill spending the government performs. We understand that the more mentally engaged and proactive our politicians are the more efficient things will run.  We accept that humans are flawed including those in our government and when things go wrong, we fix them and move forward as opposed to find the most convenient scapegoat…. now we find harmony.

Image Reference

Shutterstock – MDMAMUNMIAH20 (left), TaLaNoVa (right)

Thinking for Ourselves – First Principles Thinking

Human beings are great copiers.  We can see how society is setup, what the roles are, and aspire to be one of the roles.  There is nothing wrong with that, but society is moved forward by thinking differently.  To present a new idea, especially to a group that works in your topic requires vulnerability, brainwork, and courage.

Aristotle first came up with the idea of first principles as “the first basis from which a thing is known” to slice through poor analogies and false logic in something complex. 

Engineering / Making Things – How and why does this work? What can I create based on what I know? What technology is relevant to what I want to do?

People/Philosophy/Society/Politics/Story Telling/Art – How do I feel? What drives me? Why do I do things? What do I observe in those close to me? How do I feel about an emotional story like a book or movie?  Why are others attracted to a story where the protagonist faces fear and performs work for a dream? What feelings prevent me from doing the things I want to do?

Economy – An economy is a way to trade services between eachother.  There are many ways to setup an economy.  People don’t like change but if you want to think of the system what do you know is true? Over time productivity gradually increases from hard work by all. How is this increased wealth spread?  If the government pulls a lever what will happen?  Break down competition to its essence…ambition, livelihood, security with low friction on change. 

Cooking – What are these ingredients and cooking methods? What do they do? What can I create?  If I add this what happens?  If I change this what happens? How can I apply heat in different ways? What is the result?

Child rearing – How does a child think? What do you observe? What is your experience?  What do you want this child to learn?  How do we instill values in children? What kind of culture is needed? How do the needs of children differ?

There are endless opinions out there, but you don’t have to read them all or learn everything about society and its history to form opinions.  Just observe and think about the specific thing you are interested in.  If you present an idea and its proven wrong, now you know it’s wrong.

“Don’t just follow the trend.  You may have heard me say that it’s good to think in terms of the physics approach of first principles.  Which is, rather than reasoning by analogy, you boil things down to the most fundamental truths you can imagine and you reason up from there.”

-Elon Musk

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Shutterstock / Leremy

Supporting Brainwork and Problem Solving

There are many types of work.  From repetitive tasks, to manual labor, to homework, learning new skills, spending time, spending money.  Humans were actually made to work.  To do work towards a purpose makes us happy.  That can be making a meal, caring for someone, working for a paycheck, building something, growing something.  We build careers and gain status the longer we are in something and eventually can become experts at the field we are in.  Many video games are built in the same way, to have the user gain status throughout the game in some way, shape, or form.  We enjoy mental stimulation, like games, puzzles or giving advice on a situation we understand. 

One type of work that we generally don’t like is problems, complications, going back to school.  This is a different part of the brain and in business the most desirable people are those that can solve your problems for you.  Mechanics, consultants, problem solvers will be paid better than those that do repetitive tasks.  In politics and in life there are problems and there is a desire in us to make them go away.  We have to use our hearts and brains to go about that the right way rather than immediately chose the one with least effort.

 “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Thinking is hard work; that’s why so few do it.”

-Albert Einstein

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

-Henry Ford

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