Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

“.  .  . there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth

anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”

                                                                                          -Romans 14:14

President Ronald Reagan and Thomas "Tip" O'Neill

The psychological term, “Cognitive Dissonance” is applied to the disconcertion felt when our very human mind attempts to hold two conflicting points of view at once. We move to embrace either one or the other in order to alleviate the discomfort assuming only the positives of one and only the negatives of the other. This divided perception forms one paradigm of sweetness and light and another which is the source of everything evil. And these qualified imaginings take place on the conscious and indeed the subconscious levels. We literally assemble the world in which we live out of our chosen assumptions.

Perhaps if we are talking about primeval, tribal society there was an evolutionary advantage to Cognitive Dissonance. We presumed some folks to be friends and others to be enemies. These allegiances might have meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of years during our prehistoric development. The problem is that we have now gone through the enlightenment of civilization. Most of us have realized that every human being on earth is alike in mind, body and spirit. We recognize that we are all in this together. For the course of  our individual lives to progress and for humanity to advance in general, there is a delicate balance that needs to be struck between competition and cooperation.

Competition touches something primal within our soul. To affiliate with a team, a religion, a club or a political party ignites satisfying, inbuilt, evolutionary drives toward loyalty and mutual survival of the tribe. But in reality there’s no denying we’ve outgrown our tribes. The low vaulted ceilings of our tribal halls have been demolished and replaced with a dome as vast as the entire planet. Now, mutual survival of the tribe means all of us, every one. We’re so intertwined as to our commerce, our environment and the quality of our lives that we can neither afford our ancient hatreds nor endure the price of  Cognitive Dissonance. Gone are the days when we can abide the cost of forming some of our brothers and sisters into evil idols unworthy of love and respect or making them out to be the cause of every problem we encounter. We have to cultivate an appreciation of the more subtle, expansive delights of cooperation and learn to consider the  skill, competence and good ideas which sometimes come from the perceived other team. Our very survival as a species depends on it.

Edward F. Petersen, Creative Director
                      – American Public House Review
Published in: Uncategorized on April 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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