Why We Do What We Do . . . How Do We Change That?

A while back I heard a celebrity of sorts promise the people of the United States that he, and only he, had the ability to get the country out of trouble and only he had the solutions to the problems. Anytime someone says that he/she has ALL the answers and that we should trust them–RUN.

Trumps’ attempt at stewardship has become an indefensible situation that jeopardizes, not only the stability of the present government in the US, but the resilience of global peace. What particular strengths does Trump possess that he calls on to help make his decisions? It can’t be knowledge and it can’t be intelligence and it can’t be because he has visionary skills. I will say, whether or not you agree with what decisions he has made to date, he has made them decisively. He believes that he is right and that’s that. What he does seem to understand is how to motivate a great number of people.

Donny is a great example of someone who knows how to fan the flames of hate, discontent and injustice by tearing the scabs off of old wounds that people continue to carry with them. These are folks who were moved by believing their best interests could be met and ‘fairness’ could be restored if Donny was in the cat bird seat. When you consider where the greatest source of his strength comes from it is not hard to see why he got elected–numerically at least. He appealed to the old political right.

In truth, people are more apt to manage their behaviour based on a particular belief system and belief systems are often ingrained from birth long before a person has developed morals, values, ethics or wisdom. Donny is able to recognize an opportunity to create a different belief system and with very little resistance. He knows what his audience wants to hear and tells them what they want to hear. He is like a chameleon who is able to assume which ever role a particular situation requires. He can be the tough guy or the compassionate one or the hard-nosed no nonsense guy who won’t take no for an answer. He can be a stand up guy. Most of his followers have been taught since childhood that they deserve better than what they have and now it’s their time to have it. Trump is the guy to get it for them. This is their new belief.

Shame, guilt and fear are the results of experience and so they have a bearing on future behaviour and responses to stress or adversity. Even so, they are still outcomes of previous situations or solutions but are not the genesis of the actual thinking processes. If we consider the messages that we receive as little people-perhaps as early as one or two years old we can see that thoughts and ideas that were demonstrated to us in some way laid the ground work for much of what we did from there on. For example. If we were told over and over again that people who looked different from us were dangerous and not to be trusted that is exactly what most of us would believe and therefore we would see ‘those’ people in a very different light. Besides, why would our Mom and Dad lie to us about something like that if it weren’t true? IF you were told that homeless people are really just too lazy to find jobs and don’t want to work we will always see them as folks who don’t care but just want an easy life on the backs of those who are willing to work hard for what they want.

The point to all of this is this: as teachers and parents, as care givers and educators we need to be particularly careful of the words and messages we are sending to our young folks. We need to be sure that we are not, with the best of intentions, unduly influencing are children’s belief systems–helping them to see things from our perspective because we know better. Where else will they learn these worldly lessons.

The message we need to be sending our children is that, MOST importantly, we are encouraging our children to become independent thinkers creating their own belief systems based on their own experiences and what they know to be true for them.

If you are struggling with some of your thoughts and actions involving everyday people and events begin to challenge your beliefs–those thoughts that seem ingrained-the ones that have been there forever. Ask: “where is the evidence that supports this idea you are struggling with. For instance: “Where is the proof? Where has it been written that folks who look different are not to be trusted.”

Anyways, that’s how I see things. All the best, Jim

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