Thursday, March 23, 2017

Reducing conflict, dissonance, and hypocrisy among your thoughts and actions

Today I seek to explore the root of conflict and offer a strategy on how to reconcile thoughts and actions to minimize potential conflict. I do not intend to address the type of conflict that arises from difference of opinion or beliefs. Rather, I propose that incongruity between personally expressed ideas and actions are the primary basis of systemic conflict. The type of conflict that one experiences with systems, societal norms, and in one's mind about self and fulfillment. If you have been traversing our worldly landscape for a period that extends back to the political correctness movement then you will likely recall the backlash against it. That was because people couldn't behave in a PC manner without feeling conflicted. The response to that dissonance was to denounce the PC movement.

I will illustrate this concept through something that we have all likely witnessed; law enforcement officers violating the laws they swore to follow and uphold. It can be irritating to a driver who has been ticketed for speeding to be driving at or slightly above the speed limit to have an out-of-service police car fly past. Such an act may draw the ire of the lawful [at that moment] driver who did not swear to observe the law. This is what can lead to police-civilian conflict and lack of respect for police, especially when such acts are viewed as pervasive. The thought of a double standard leads to an 'us and them' state-of-mind which produces conflict.

The most dramatic demonstration of this community duality and the degree to which it has become entrenched which I have been able to observe is the Rodney King beating incident. There, law enforcement officers from four agencies passively observe a small armed gang mercilessly beat a defenseless civilian whose members were later convicted of the crime.

Before the four police officers were convicted in a federal court they were acquitted in the state court. Following that acquittal were three days of mayhem - rioting, looting, arson - in primarily black neighborhoods. This mayhem was responded to by police with the same casual non-intervention approach taken during King's beating. The rioting erupted because of that "us and them" mentality and the double standard applied by the jury. The police held true to form by not intervening because fellow officers were not in jeopardy nor was it occurring in a region of the city primarily occupied by white people. As a news crew was filming the scene driver Reginald Deny was pulled from his truck and beaten while police made no effort to intervene on his behalf.

Now ask yourself if that had that been a cop pulled from his cruiser and beaten would the response have been the same. If your inclination is "no" then you are experiencing the basis of the conflict of which I speak. You are feeling that there is disparate treatment: a double standard.

Intrinsic conflict is not necessarily this blatant. The two scenarios I previously described occur on a micro-level and are therefore more readily realized consciously. In moving to the macro-level the conflict occurring among broader concepts may not be so readily apparent.

Humans as a specie have long had a self-sense of superiority within the animal kingdom and an exalted sense of self-worth and importance in the known universe. This is seen within the various interventions within natural systems which tend to operate less efficiently than the natural system and often to the detriment of the organisms within the natural system.

One of the clearest examples to me which may be overlooked by most people due to societal scripting is the push to spay or neuter pets. The Humane Society of the United States claims, "The decision to spay or neuter your pet . . . can be the single best decision you make for his long-term welfare." They also cite benefits such as a reduction in the number of homeless pets killed, improved health of the animals, improved behavior, and reduced cost of care.

Human intellectual elitism is markedly misplaced when this scenario is viewed on the macro scale; animal reproductive bahviour. Humans have denied to animals their reproductive liberty and have decided which animals are fit to reproduce and which shall be denied that liberty. These eugenics programs which are playing god or Hitler, whichever you choose, have been abject failures. The result has been a high rate of homelessness among the selectively bred animals. Not only is the rate for these animals the highest in the animal kingdom but the very creatures who so proudly boast of their achievements in eugenics programs likewise have a higher rate of homelessness than even the much maligned rats. So, that sense of self-aggrandizing and intellectual superiority gets blown away when you measure something as simple as a species ability to shelter itself.

Another scenario is self-imposed trauma. While as a specie we tend to laud ourselves for our technical advancements and innovations which mitigate or reduce trauma we often overlook our position as inducer. Take highway passenger automobiles for instance. Anti-lock brakes, air-bags, and collapsible body construction design have all reduced the trauma from collisions. So, apparently we are wise or intelligent? Who operated the vehicles that resulted in a crash? Better yet, who invented the things? The other creatures within the earthly fauna don't produce trauma inducing devices as humans have done. Similarly, legitimate healthcare providers now readily concede that about 95% of all human cancers are self-inflicted. Another thing other animals do not engage in nearly as much as humans.

Rationalizing, which is a way of justifying an action to ameliorate the dissonance produced by the internal conflict resulting from the act, is achieved by making the action subjective on a micro-level. Try taking a matter and viewing it on a macro-level. Try prohibitions on student clothing with alcohol advertisements. That falls under the greater category of exposure to alcohol images or marketing. Exposure to alcohol images falls under the umbrella of stimulus which can induce one to engage in compulsive alcohol consumption. This places compulsive alcohol consumption into the domain of ailments which are deliberately selected. There is a segment of society, however, which claims that compulsive alcohol consumption - labeled alcoholism - is a disease whose acquisition is beyond the control of the individual who can only suppress its effects. Thus, a person who advocates alcohol image prohibitions on student clothing but simultaneously claims that a disease such as alcoholism exists lives in conflict. If alcoholism is a disease then marketing prohibitions are akin to saying that if we do not use, in any form, the word hepatitis or display of its image then the spread of that disease will cease.

Food processing, as in the type that out body does, is something to which a macro view may be novel to you. We tend to readily concede that food consumption in public is acceptable social behaviour with social graces becoming more constrictive throughout the process. Beginning with salivating, such as Pavlov's Dog, down through eating, eructations, peristaltic sounds, flatulence, urination, and finally defecation these digestive events become less socially acceptable. So, in the macro sense, defecating is no different than salivating or eating; all part of the bodily nourishment process. There are people viewed as psychologically aberrant who have social eating anxiety that are anxious when eating in public because some subconsciously have this macro view. On the opposite end is those who take no issue with being viewed while expelling food waste. I suppose that those of us who have been in prison or the military are more likely to reside toward that end of the spectrum.

It is these macro-level conflicts that our subconscious experiences without our effort to bring them into conscious thought. It is subconscious experience that provides the basis for our conscious behaviour. An individual may find himself or herself choosing to sit toward a more secluded area in a restaurant or glancing about before placing food in the mouth without realizing this is based upon the macro body nourishment view. This will additionally manifest itself through interpersonal relationships and effect one's general mental health. By living a life in which thoughts and actions are not aligned we are not at ease. That is, we are in a state of disease.

You may achieve greater tranquility in your life if you are reticent to accept the status quo, question the motives behind the messages posited by societal scripting and analyze your thoughts and actions on a macro-level rather than a micro-level.

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