If there is anything that we should have learned in these past few decades of divisive political rhetoric, and the existential threats of the COVID pandemic, global nuclear and cyber-attacks, and climate change, manifesting fear, hatred, and mass murders, it is that we are programmed within sick societies to shift our perspectives for survival in ways that are often self-sabotaging and maladaptive. As a therapist, I view the destruction and demoralization of American society as like that of prisoners of war- only this war is psychological in nature. Our enemies have turned us against ourselves.
If this is true, and we have become like spies for foreign dictators, then our very salvation lies in self-reflection and personal accountability that too many appear too proud to pursue. Our enemies have instilled such righteous indignation in us that it seems impossible for us to restore dignity and justice to our nation. Our enemies have even weaponized our faith, our pride, and our competitive natures by using bible verses and stories to fool us into believing that discriminatory violence is justified.
In addiction treatment, we often tell our patients that “the only way out is through,” borrowing from the doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous. This means that we must embrace the perspective transformation process to emancipate ourselves from internalized notions that drive us to our own destruction. Such notions often trace back to our own experiences of oppression, abuse, shaming, bullying, or discrimination, putting is in a state of hyperalert and mistrust of the “others,” as those we do not understand or fear due to bias. The good news is that when we become mindful of our destructive tendencies, we can head them off at the pass, shift our views to those that deepen our connection to others we once feared or even loathed, and live with compassion and love for others in ways that enrich our lives, keeping us in pace with our souls.
I therefore plea for you to build the courage to take a good look at yourselves. Are you part of the chaos that has spun us into a frenzy of hateful discourse? Or are you part of the transformational leadership that strives to mend our nation by helping even those we are pressured to view as our rivals from the poisonous notions that we have all been bombarded with these past decades? I have no doubt that some of you will call me crazy and dismiss what I say, for I am sure it will stab you with a knife. But I would challenge you to consider that it this makes your blood boil, then you are in more need of reprogramming than most.
I am not asking you to take on my views or abandon your tribe for another. I ask no one to change their political or religious affiliations. What I am asking is that you take each belief that you have adopted and ask yourself if it is yours. Are you acting upon reflective practice and mindfulness, or simply going along with others in your cohort to belong? Our perspectives matter. They not only shape us and impact our life experiences, but they cause a ripple effect in our circles of influence. We each have a role in rebuilding our nation, and the fate of our nation is in every one of our hands.