“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster” (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Is one’s state of mind indicated by perceiving a glass container as half empty or half full? Is a 50/50 chance for risking a gambling venture an indication of winning or losing? Does reaching midfield on a football field mean yards earned or yards yet to go? It all depends on your perceptions when seeking answers to such point of views.
I read today of an NPR report where an elderly woman from rural California liked the modest copays and premiums of the “Affordable Health Care Plan” she was receiving on her modest income. Yet she vehemently opposed the continuation of such coverage when she heard the word Obama to describe the plan she had selected. Apparently, her negative perceptions of the Barack name clouded her judgment at a time when she desperately needed this affordable alternative for health care.
Clearly, one’s perceptions of personalities and events that surround them can restrict rational judgment and thus perpetuate closed-minded behavior. When I taught the skill of fact vs. opinion as a professor, I often used visual images to demonstrate the power of perception in biasing our decision-making. Think of the subjective confusion raised by the glass/face”contradiction or the “beautiful woman/old hag” experiment. Ponder whether the ballet dancer balances on her right or left foot depending on which way she pirouettes at the time.
The matter of perception seems particularly relevant when one considers the staying power of current Trump supporters in the face of his troubled Presidency. Our current, executive administration uses persuasive images of “bully” pulpit aggression combined with the emotional appeal of tabloid journalism to incite his loyal following. As a result, it seems likely that his base become victims of their perceptual biases as they tune out conflicting evidence of truth that question the veracity of the President’s statements. For instance, the tabloid examples below clearly exaggerate the emotional appeal of the Donald Trump persona and use untruth to cast him as a hero who conquers an allegedly unworthy opponent.
On a personal level, I am deeply concerned about the political tone of 2017, where angry pessimism reigns to influence public opinion for closing open borders indiscriminately, disbelieving climate change and annulling Obamacare health care coverage with no adequate replacement. As a responsible citizen, I recognize one’s right to think, speak, and act freely yet I equally value the need to be clear-headed and rational before making important decisions. As a result, I envision two, key behaviors which I will undertake to address my perceptual confusions about pertinent issues.
Authenticate The Information Given:
The need to obtain accurate information about a given topic means a great deal to me in deciding whether to believe something as true or not. Secondary news sources like CNN, MSNBC, and FOX, seem to be corporate instigators of misinformation at times while Facebook and Twitter frequently spin into endless rants of anger and blame. Why not put my own investigatory skills to use and directly examine primary sources of information on my own? I can now examine actual government documents in the past by conducting searches on “Smithsonian Learning Lab. “New measurements of political opinion can be easily initiated by my self- creating/sharing of “Survey Monkey”online polls. In the ease of my living room, I can obtain instant fact support from multiple information sources by speaking to Alexa on “Amazon Echo” concerning relevant topics in my mind.
Avoid Tunnel Vision:
Tunnel vision is defined as one’s tendency to focus on a single or limited goal or point of view while excluding their awareness of alternate information at hand. In my life, Tunnel Vision takes place when I rush and cannot control life situations. I am standing impatiently in a grocery queue obsessing how slow the expected wait will be. As a consequence of such narrow-minded thinking, I do not consider the benefit of initiating friendly conversation with others to pass the time in line more pleasantly . it seems clear from this example that it would be to my advantage if I let go of the need to rush into such tunnel vision decisions prematurely that interfere with clear-headed thinking. On a deeper level, I also recognize my obsessive preoccupation with the contentious political environment of my country. In this regard, the endless Twitter rants that I read from our President cause unneeded stress in my life and “turn off” my tolerance for respecting opposing points of view. Clearly, I must lighten up, avoid social media more, make use of all of my thinking hats, and divert my mind with meditative silence to provide more outlets of positive energy now.
The tabloid culture clearly is not for me as I see no point in making monsters out of those who I fear or threaten me. Keeping my perceptions in check seem particularly vital to me as I experience new cultural challenges in retirement as an independent traveler. “Travel like Ghandi, with simple clothes, open eyes and an uncluttered mind. ” (Rick Steves).