Affective Polarization

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

How fun when learning occurs in clusters.  I linked to a recent Hidden Brain podast on my November 4 post.  It was the first time I had heard the term ‘affective polarization.’  Basically it means that we define and dislike people by only knowing their political party affiliation.  Today I listened to a series of theological essays addressing the same issue, from a Christian perspective.  I can’t wait to learn more.

Increasingly, we judge and relate to one another based on this one factor, which may or may not be important to how we define ourselves.  Apparently it’s a pretty new phenomenon, and escalating fast (surprise). 

The podcast discusses how we feel as and about people who are deeply involved in politics or not, and how that affects our attitudes and decisions about which relationships to enter, whom to hire, where to live, etc.  The essays explain further that it has to do with in- and out-group (tribal) identity, self-esteem, and meaning.  In 21st Century American culture, our politics identify us more than they used to—it has replaced religion in this way, perhaps.  But, he posits, while we have cultivated religious attitudes and practices “from dogmatism and fundamentalism toward a faith that is more tolerant, inclusive, peaceable and generous,” not so for politics.  Partisans on both sides are basically fundamentalists, and that carries important implications for violence— the new holy wars.

This may all seem rather alarmist.  But I bet anyone who hears the podcast or reads the articles will recognize and relate to much of their content.  The best outcome from consumption of these pieces will be a little more awareness, and a desire to monitor and modify how we relate, for the better.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

What We Need

NaBloPoMo 2020 — Today’s Lesson

It’s Election Day Eve.  Big day tomorrow.  What do you need? 

A few of us asked each other this question today.  I need to stay connected to my tribe and get good sleep.  Another needs to form a tribe, learn to reach out and connect on her own terms.  Others need safety.  Crystal ball, genie, group hug (but COVID GRRRRR), a certain election outcome…  I suggested maybe we need an hourly, one song, Zoom dance-along throughout the day.  The playlist is growing.

After multiple queries it becomes clear, as it always does, that more than anything, we need each other.  My Facebook friend, a Trump supporter, told me how a colleague came to work crying the day after in 2016.  He hugged her.  No matter what I think of his politics I need for him and me to stay friends, to commit to not abandoning each other as fellow humans and fellow Americans.  I’m not sure if that’s what he needs… I should ask.

We all need, once again as always, to feel seen, heard, understood, accepted, and loved.  And we need to help others feel it, too.  This does not mean we are not held responsible for our words and actions, and the harm we cause with both.  Compassion and empathy are not exclusive of accountability and reform. 

We need vulnerability and courage.  We need to come alongside rather than come at.  We need to monitor and manage our own assumptions, to hold a mirror to ourselves and own our contributions to current state.  We need calm, discipline, breath, and self-control.

We need to heal.

We need grace—to give and to receive.

The Value of Brevity

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Lesson for the Day

November is National Blog Posting Month!  This will be my sixth consecutive attempt—30 posts in 30 days.  Every year I think I lack the bandwidth, and I try anyway.  This year feels even more impossible, so I’m even more determined.  To practice dynamic life balance, so I can do the things I need as well as those I want, I commit to an additional challenge:  60 minutes and 300 words or less per day.  One hour for me; one minute for you.

This month I will apprehend a key learning each day and write about it.  I expect certain lessons will recur, and I look forward to seeing what patterns and themes emerge, especially as we navigate the election, the pandemic, the holidays, winter, and darkness (the last perhaps on multiple levels).

When you are challenged to distill, and then perhaps amplify, a central tenet or message, how do you do it?  I rail against soundbites most of the time, and sometimes they also have value.  Well-crafted statements—slogans, I guess—can inspire, move, and change our world.  What single statements best express your experience of our current challenges?  I’ll take my stab below.  Share yours in the comments, as well as your favorite mantras/sayings.

I will park my butt to meet you here every night this month.

Election:  Leadership is about character.

Pandemic:  On the long, hard road ahead, we must all care for each other as much as ourselves.

Holidays: Take the aberration in stride and get creative about connecting—we can do this.

Winter:  Cold and dark make us treasure warmth and light; let the annual appreciation practice commence.

Darkness:  There is always light somewhere; seek it earnestly, inside and out.