Sunday, January 1, 2012
Cognitive Dissonance and Other Party Conversation In The Clubhouse
I was invited to a party last night by one of my customers.
Understand, I’ve known this guy for the past thirty years – longer, on balance, than some of my readers have been alive, or at least cognizant of the world around them. Over those years, I’ve worked as a supplier of technology products, consulting advice and general sounding-board services to this man, so I’m virtual-family. On occasion, someone who’s up and coming either in his organization or in his own extended family will see me, not know me, and seek me out. This is what happened last night, with a young man in his (I’m hazarding a guess here) late twenties; one of those more-or-less distant relatives of the core-group; he was on the periphery of nearly every discussion.
He wasted no time asking me about my political beliefs. I was noncommittal, which led him to explain his – the country’s government is all screwed up, and all we really need to do is (1) get rid of Obama, then (2) a magical era will ensue, where life will be like it was when he was in his late teens and (I’m assuming) living at home with a set of parents who actually had a 401K and two cars and a house and the money to send him to college.
Shortly after that, he explained, we could get to the business of setting things right – you see, the government is bought and paid for, and we really need to put an end to all this money buying influence.
“And how would you go about that?”, I asked.
“Campaign finance reform!”, he said.
“And how would you accomplish that?”, I asked.
“Corporations don’t get to donate to elections!”
“And how would you accomplish that?”
And so the conversation went. It never occurred to the young fellow that he’d just engaged in something called ‘cognitive dissonance’ – holding two disparate and conflicting ideas in one’s head at the same time, and forcing them to make sense - as the very people he expects to solve this problem are the ones in charge.
(This condition is also called ‘suspension of reality’.)
Through the cigar smoke and the slight wine-buzz, I realized that this was how most Americans have survived the past thirty years – if they stopped to really think about what was going on, their minds – raised on a steady pablum of slick-media, mindless ‘entertainment’ and other horseshit – would simply cease to function. Likely, parts of them would go translucent and slip off to another dimension. Half of them would wind up gibbering on streetcorners.
“The other part of the problem is that we’ve lost our religion,” he said.
('Here it comes', I thought. ‘Might as well enjoy this.’)
“Really? How do you suppose that is?”
“There’s a war on religion in America. Our values have been destroyed by the media and technology.”
“Really? How do you suppose that is?”
(I thought, ‘This is how psychiatrists make money. They charge $250.00 an hour to repeat the same questions, nod sagely, and take notes'. Meanwhile, they have photos of boats and houses and cars and other ‘goals’ on their office walls – because make no mistake, psychiatry is like journalism or the ministry or prostitution and lap-dancing – all are ‘professions’ which bugger truth for money.)
I was then treated to an enthralling lecture regarding America’s ‘religion’; the ‘fact’ that ‘all we needed to do’ was invoke Article 5 of the Constitution to get the money out of Congress and establish a ‘godly’ country, and then we could set about getting rid of Obama and his supporters.
“I’d vote for Rick Santorum. He’s a good man.”
(This is where biting my tongue was a tough go. You’ll recall that Santorum was the guy who said that he’d do away with food-stamps and other food-related assistance to the poor, because ‘the obesity rate was too high.’)
I excused myself to chat with another group of folks. “You’ll be sure to tell me when you’ve ironed out that Article 5 issue,” I said as I walked off.
The average American can’t find Ohio on a map (or, so says the National Geographic, and I rather believe them); most can’t tell you the major ‘players’ in World War II, or what the Cold War was about; people under forty usually can’t tell you where the Soviet Union was located; it’s a given that they really don’t understand the documents which form the framework for the country they live in.
In other words, the fellow helping himself to the free beer last night is rather typical of my fellow citizens - he's also part of a huge-assed problem.
And that, folks, is why I don’t hold out much if any hope for this country.
2012 is here; like it or not. We’re past the Age of Aquarius; peace, love and understanding are all thin on the ground, as well as a dose of common sense and reality, no matter how harsh it may be. That rough beast I mentioned the other day? He’s in the wings, waiting to make his appearance. His actions will be messy, uncoordinated, and deadly. His keepers have little education, less patience, and lots of guns. Lots of guns.