Three Strategies

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Over the last few years I have often found it difficult to avoid being outraged at some of the positions expressed by political leaders, and “every-day folk”. Is this self-righteous indignation? What worries me is that I resist through intolerance, which in turn, makes it difficult, if not impossible, to find some common ground of understanding. Disputes cannot end because there is no change in position, no willingness to compromise, no effort to see the other side. It’s not just me, it’s everywhere. It is now so wide spread it is considered a threat to democracy. If people with different opinions can’t find a place of agreement, then the whole system of participatory government, and society, falls apart. The only means to move is unilaterally.

Listening is frequently cited as the strategy to overcome this hurdle. I offer two more.

While finding agreement might be the ultimate purpose of listening, the initial challenge is to gain understanding. To develop a common ground of facts and points for discussion. Getting through this first step can be challenging if one is unable to manage emotions; to not recoil in abject incredulity at the positions being offered. To control one’s emotions takes training, and this is the focus of my second strategy: listen to prime-time CNN.

Much of the content in this prime-time period, cloaked under the mantel of news, is peppered with opinion, and it is this opinion that is intended to stir emotion, may be to the point of outrage. The purpose of this strategy is to learn how to first recognise and then deal with emotion. To build resistance to provocative statements. To get to a point where they bounce off like water from a duck. Once CNN is mastered, move to Fox, if it is available in your area.

Executing this strategy exposes one to dangerously high levels of negative news, opinion, leaving one with a sense of total loss, generating severe bouts of depression, which leads to my third strategy: skip the content and just listen to commercials.

The content of many news channels is largely depressing and often purposely charged with emotion. However, the commercials usually portray a more hopeful, and possibly idilic, world view. After all, if your dog can get great farm-sourced food how bad can things really be? Watching only the commercials should lull the mind and spirit to a point of equilibrium.

Equipped with these three strategies one is in a position to find common ground through listening, without letting emotions take control, and with a balanced and proportioned perspective on the current state of affairs.


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