eThoughts : The Cognitive/Emotional Strobe-Light Effect and Bumper-Sticker Philosophies.

In the midst of all my semi-rehabilitation, I still notice how disconnected we, including me, can be. It’s as though one’s feelings and cognitions are not connected to the continuum, only to a picture-frame reference. Odd thing that. Without a continuum, how can we discover the connecting links? With only a picture-frame reference, how do we actually go to a completely different plane of thinking/feeling?

For all of our complaining, this cognitive/emotional quantum leap is a real tough job. Obviously. Better to hang on to a known status quo than to venture into unknown and potentially wondrous new worlds. That’s a key: known versus unknown. What we know isn’t all that brilliant, but what we don’t know has all the promise of a long fall off a steep cliff—at least that’s how we behave.

Get politicians to act? Maybe if we’re in the midst of some terror. Otherwise their real charge is to remain electable.

Get schools to change? Maybe if we’re in the midst of some upheaval. Otherwise the issue is influencing others about what to think as opposed to how to think?

Have a new and responsible corporate world? Let’s get so lost in the operational definitions that we just keep on keeping on, which means the bottom line is God?

Get health care for all. Not even if we’re in the midst of some moral upheaval—at least not so far. We can drive ourselves sick doing “we said, they said.”

You get the picture. And yes, I’ve got some cynicism and skepticism involved.

I’ve taken to calling this detached form of “logic,” the cognitive/emotional strobe-light effect. When we lament our condition based on simplistic phraseology (as in bumper-sticker philosophy), we’re lighting up thoughts and feelings that are disconnected from the larger picture. However, there is a lot of feel-good based on bumper-sticker, strobe-light thinking/feeling. It can leave one with the impression they are so, so right. Tidy, eh?

Take all the gab-fest about debt for instance. Yes, we’re in debt (let’s not think about how we got there). Is debt a bad way to go, can we go into debt to get out of debt? Sure we can—in some instances. I’ve done it a number of times in both business and education. The rule is to make debt work for us, not to take borrowed money and pretend we’re well-to-do or to think that debt is a precursor to a societal implosion. In either case, it’s a strobe-light effect—the light flashes on the bling or the disaster and not the work climbing out of a debt-hole.

Is big government to blame for all that goes on? Pick a strobe-light moment and sure enough, there’s the regulations galore and impediments to free enterprise all over the place. With that in mind, better deregulate as well as generate some bumper-sticker sayings.

Is capitalism to blame for all our troubles? Pick another strobe-light moment and sure enough, there’s greed galore, hatched from a regulation-free environment along with a let-the-buyer-beware attitude. The suckers deserve it, except when the long-range effect of all that greed comes back to bite the money-changers on the butt. I guess we need to think about just what a sucker really is.

Is socialism to blame for our stampede towards the cliff? Pick a strobe-light moment and voilà, there’s entitlements galore and an economic anchor around us, our children, their children, ad infinitum. It’s a sinking feeling all right. Let each fend for themselves, right?

So who’s responsible for all that goes on? That would be us. I’ve got news for all those strobe-light and bumper-sticker pundits: Big government is comprised of people. Big business is comprised of people. Oops. If people become greedy with regulatory power just because they’re part of the bureaucracy, it has to do with people, not just the bureaucracy. If people succumb to the Scrooge-McDuck syndrome because they’re part of Wall Street, it has to do with people, not just big business.

With all the talk and research about neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to re-learn—it is increasing difficult to speak only in terms of our “nature” or the effect of our surroundings as though those imprints are somehow permanent. Sure, we’re locked-in in some ways. Pterodactyls we shall not be. But the problem with cultural or biological neuroscience is the notion that while freedom and greed and regulatory agencies may not carry the same meaning for everyone, depending on how and where we were raised, along with what we inherited from our ancestors, that learning doesn’t mean we can’t connect with each other or that we can’t re-form some of those neural connections to create another way of seeing.

Given that, I don’t see the point of blaming either business or government, or other cultures (or the other gender) for that matter. It’s going to be tough to get off of our individual and collective imprints, just as it’s tough to relearn basic things like how to walk again. But I’m curious what other really positive choice we have? Getting others to buy into our strobe-light and bumper-sticker reality? Yeah—getting others to join together in one corner of reality will really get us on the right path. I mean, just what kind of a path is it that leads us right into a corner? Sometimes a short path, I think.

Bumper-sticker philosophies and strobe-light cognitions/feelings are fine for comedy, but they suck as a way of life. Let’s keep them as funny comedy bits, as opposed to a compass heading of blaming others for what is merely a different version of the same nonsense.

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