I want to discuss some of my thought process in writing, “Politics and Self-Actualization”. The inspiration came to me while teaching Maslow as I do each late Fall Semester. I have been disheartened by the divide in the country, though I also had my fun on Facebook posting guffaws about Trump. Like many, I didn’t believe he had a chance, and was also disheartened by his election. At the same time, I am someone who strives for self-actualization, enlightenment, awakening, or whatever you want to call it.
It is my opinion Trumps views are far from enlightened. Many have called him rude, a bully, and other derogatory terms including hotheaded. What I’ve seen hasn’t offered much to challenge that. Just this week he demanded an apology for how the cast of “Hamilton” addressed the Vice President elect. I saw what I believe to be a full video of the event. There was nothing that required an apology in my opinion. When the crowd booed Mr. Pence, they asked the crowd to stop. They identified themselves as a diverse community and shared they hoped his administration would work for American values that protect everyone. Having seen and read the comments, I found the cast respectful. They thanked him for attending and stopping to listen. Some, however, saw this tactic as bullying, which I’m trying to be understanding of. However, I see no need for Trump to demand an apology and call it harassment.
However, I am at the whim of the media I pay attention to, as all are. Liberals have their preferred media, conservatives theirs. Both sides criticize the others. I’m beginning to wonder if there is any way to know what’s true in the media. We seem to be at a point where everything needs to be researched and fact checked. I’m not sure I’m quite interested, with my busy life, to do that.
I’m not exactly fond of Hillary Clinton and the current political state of America, which she seems so much a part of. I’ve listened to podcasts over the last month or so that discuss politics, and one focused on how our culture has an inherent bias toward women leaders, and that opened my mind a bit. At the same time, however, I get that many voters are simply sick of the status quo, and Mrs. Clinton represented that.
My thoughts are swirling because of all of this. As I tell all of my psychology students, I don’t believe you can study psychology and not come out questioning your beliefs, thinking, and realizing you lie to yourself consistently. Everyone’s perception of reality is distorted by his or her personal history, as well as current goals. For example, I want to believe I perceive reality more accurately than the average person, because that is one of the characteristics of a self-actualizer. At the same time, my understanding of psychology informs me that much of what I believe is biased as a result of my history and goal to be self-actualizing (whether I actually am getting there or not). Further, my beliefs surrounding Buddhism and enlightenment inform me wanting to be self-actualizing or enlightened is an ego trick. So, the best thing to do, is not believe any of my thoughts.
I certainly am an advocate of equality and equal rights. I try to be compassionate and empathize with those seeking solace in the United States. I also empathize with those losing their jobs due to companies moving out of the country. I have left the blue-collar world, and have to wonder if my new values and beliefs don’t play a part in my stance. There are so many biases that make us think we are correct in our views. That applies to both sides. Both sides believe in their cause, and view the other, as Kathryn Schulz would proclaim, as misinformed, stupid, or evil. A lot of this belief can be very much influenced by the biases each of us holds.
That leaves me with democratic beliefs (in both senses of the word) but questioning my own thoughts. I don’t have answers, and am waiting, like I hope a good Taoist or Buddhist would, to see what will happen. Then I question if that is the wrong approach too. Should I already be involved in fighting whatever fight others are?
I voted for the first time only 4 years ago. I hate politics, and have always believed both sides are corrupt, and that I wouldn’t be “party” to it. I voted, really, only to help marijuana become legal for those with medical issues (it didn’t that cycle, but did this time). Of course, I voted for the candidates I wanted as long as I was there. Lately, I’m not sure I should have ever bothered. I try not to hold strong opinions, realizing I lie to myself (as everyone does) all the time. At the same time I won’t sit back and allow racism to rule. Recently I’ve heard of a movement to have everyone register if a law is passed where Muslims have to. I certainly will. I hope many will, Democrat and Republican, so we can put this nastiness to rest about the nature of each other. But I guess we’ll see. Or, hopefully, we won’t.