Our Cracked Nation


There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
~~Leonard Cohen

Yes, it’s been over a week ten days since Leonard Cohen passed away, which will give you a clue about how long I’ve been working on this blog post, which should give you a hint about how scattered my thoughts have been since the election.

Maria Popova, of Brain Pickings, wrote in her column, “Leonard Cohen on Democracy and Redemption”:

One of [Cohen’s] most beloved lyric lines, from the song “Anthem” — a song that took Cohen a decade to write — remains what is perhaps the most meaningful message for our troubled and troubling times: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

In the last week, my feelings have ricocheted between anger and shikata ga nai (Japanese for “it cannot be helped) as I’ve searched for “the light trying to get in.”

After five seven eight nine days of reading hundreds of people’s comments on Facebook/Twitter and watching the news media’s struggle to figure out what happened and what is yet to happen, I can’t tell if I’m coming out of my election-induced fog or going deeper into it.

That’s probably why I’ve been working on this post for three nine days now, not only trying to figure it out for myself, but debating what should and shouldn’t be said.

My hesitance in posting this blog has a lot to do with the criticism I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter toward those who do not appear to be angry enough or reactionary enough. I do understand this. As with every other election in which I’ve participated during my lifetime, everyone is dealing with the results of the election in his/her own way. But this cycle, the divisiveness of our opinions has led people to talk about “unfriending,” or even leaving Facebook all together–myself included.

Then, a few days ago, a friend (my cousin’s cousin) and I, while discussing the election, began talking about gaman.

gaman

I had to laugh when I read one of his posts in reference to a documentary on the Japanese actor, Toshiro Mifune:

gaman

Oddly enough, this Facebook conversation gave me focus on the underlying feeling I’ve had as I’ve seen the interactions of friends and family on social media and listened to news stories full of nothing more than opinions on what’s going to happen next.

We need more gaman, “enduring with patience and dignity”–maybe even more quiet, (or as Ron learned, “shutting up”), at least for now.

I mean no offense to anyone, so let me explain. Here’s where I think we need a little “quiet”:

Social Media
Each person has his/her own ideas of . . . well, everything. And although part of the “light” I’ve seen is a need for open, honest, respectful, conversation, unfortunately, that’s very difficult at this moment in time when emotions still run high, especially on social media.

Maybe it’s our inability to hear voice inflections, or to see the expression on each other’s faces. Or, perhaps it’s that social media often serves as a bullying safety zone. Regardless of the reason, there’s no doubt, the opportunity for misunderstanding/defensiveness/anger/hurt is great.

Staying “quiet” on Facebook has not been an easy thing to do, and I have slipped a few times. We all want to express our opinions, but problems arise when we don’t want to hear anybody else’s opinion, and this seems to be happening more and more on social media.

Besides:

facebook-change-mind

So, for now anyway, this is one area I think we may need a little more gaman, even if it means being quiet on social media.

Our Inner Voice
I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes I am easily offended. Though I have no problem at all with an opinion different from mine, those differing opinions are sometimes expressed in less than respectful ways, especially at a time like now, when emotions run high. I sometimes take that personally.

One of the agreements in Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements is:

four-agreements

Quiet your inner voice. As this agreement says, what others say is a projection of their own reality and has nothing to do with you.

News Media
Lots to talk about here:

  • Speculations and Crystal Balls
  • Fake News
  • Confirmation Bias

Speculations and Crystal Balls: If you’ve followed my blog, you probably already know I’m a news junkie addict. I want to know what’s going on, and in the past, I’ve believed the pundits knew what they were talking about, which gave me a feeling of security control.

For over a year, I watched the news daily, sometimes hourly, to see what was going on–what Trump said, what Hillary said about what Trump said, vice versa and blah, blah, blah.

Tuesday night, November 8, almost every news media organization predicted Hillary Clinton would be our next president. Even by President Elect Trump’s own admission, neither he nor his team believed he would win.

In the end, what a waste of time to have watched so closely.

And it continues, even after the election–the sensationalizing of stories that drum up fear and the doling out of mega-doses of guesswork by “experts” about what a Trump presidency will be like.

At this point, it’s almost ALL speculation, and I’m doing my best to quiet my fears about speculation. What I verify has actually happened, (which leads me to the next topic!) I will take action upon, but it probably won’t be via social media.

Fake News
Another reason I’ve been tempted to get off of Facebook is all the fake news I see being shared–as serious news. The problem has become so rampant that both Google and Facebook are taking aim at fake news sites.

For obvious reasons, fake news is something about which we all need to SHUT-UP. In nicer words, please verify news before sharing it.

confirmation-bias

Click HERE for excellent information on websites known for fake/misleading/unreliable/slanted/satirical news.

Confirmation Bias
I used to watch Fox News all…the…time. As a result, I could hardly stand the thought of watching MSNBC or reading the New York Times. One day, I’d had enough of their FOX NEWS ALERTS (everything was an ALERT!) so I started watching CNN.

Now, although I primarily watch CNN, I occasionally switch over to Fox or MSNBC, just for the sake of seeing the difference in how the news is being reported. If you’ve never tried this, take it from me. There’s a huge difference in either how news is being reported, or what news is being reported.

Seeing this difference, it’s no surprise to me that people saw Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton so differently during the campaign.

If you’ve never compared how news is being reported on different venues, click HERE to take a look at this Wall Street Journal graphic titled “Red Feed, Blue Feed.” This graphic publishes liberal and conservative Facebook posts side by side in close-to real time.

red-blue

We need to challenge our confirmation bias. Read or listen to sources that are outside of your comfort zone, with as open a mind as possible.

_______________________

I hope you understand that the “quiet” I speak about is not that we should remain quiet about wrongs or injustices. But there is a time and a place for speaking out, and at least for now, I’m not sure about the effectiveness of social media because nobody is really listening. We’re only pounding our chests.

Most of all, I believe we need to do what we can to silence the fake news and minimize our confirmation bias. How else can we come to understand what’s true, and not what’s to be feared? More important, it’s how we can better come to understand each other, which for me, is the light shining through the crack in our nation.

This entry was posted in Politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s