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Lenses of Society: Seeing the Connections

Thermodynamics and Society: Is There a Connection? The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy (disorder) of a system only decreases when it interacts with some other system whose entropy (Yes, it still means disorder) increases in the process. Thermodynamics? Really? What does this have to do with anything? I know absolutely nothing about thermodynamics, other than these few words I regurgitated above. But it may give us a chance to reframe the way we think about our society and the problems that seem increasingly burdensome. As the nation has grown from the single point of declaring independence, there has been a growing divide. And though we continue to grow apart, I can’t help but wonder – is there something under it all that is developing a common ground for future generations? Are they riots, or are they protests? Is enforcing pandemic measures a sense of tyranny, or is it a necessary component of being societally beneficial? Who’s to blame for the problems between the African American community and the police force? Chaos of Systems When we look at the two political systems in our society, we have to spectrums of thought that can become equally radical. You have centrism in the middle, with communism and fascism at opposing ends of it all. It seems like a simple representation of the political arena, doesn’t it? Well, let’s dissect some of the problems that come along. As we see the polarization of the two parties in most discussions, we have run into several problems that keep us from coming together as one: A comprehensive understanding of one’s political thought. A lack of understanding of opposing thought. An objective point where ‘we’ ends and ‘they’ begins. A vague and subjective understanding of the last point. A societal average that represents everyone but defines only a few. Seeing Both the Order and Disorder: As we take the first to problems into account, this can define much of the division we have in this world. A democrat listening to Biden will often have the same reaction as a Republican listening to Trump. And the reaction? “They will bring order to this country and help us move forward?” Indeed, only one can be right…right? It is this very complication that fact-checkers and journalists thrive on. We have been consistently intent that order can only come from one thing – having the system as a whole that looks at the world with the same pair of eyes. This obstacle seems insurmountable because, well, it is impossible. The generalized groupings of each political narrative come from years of experiences and shaping that push us to one side of the American Divide. The interesting point is that from it, we are faced with confirming our own thought, realizing how true it is. When we see order and goodness in the world, it’s because we see our own thought patterns in others, thus confirming what we believe. Politics is Like Musical Taste It’s like music. Take jazz, for instance. Why do they always play the wrong note? With music, as with everything in life from food to or value systems, we are often so focused on the surface of it all that we don’t realize the underlying patterns. The later work of John Coltrane is an excellent example of this. If you ever want to hear a jazz musician playing all the wrong notes, listen to his song “The Father and The Son and The Holy Ghost.” As the pianist mashes his keys, John plays with the tenacity of childish Joy, and it sounds confusing. But to him and a select few – it’s music in its purest form. And so, the other side sounds like jazz to the ears, as you wonder what they could be saying? But if we sit for a few moments and honestly try to tune into the patterns of their stories, sometimes we can breakthrough and begin to grasp their melodies. Systems of Society? If we take a look at society as a matter of several systems, we can begin to cut through what makes us different. When we label what we see, it is more than just naming an object or group of people. With it, we develop expectations and understandings – these are our stereotypes. Seems simple enough, right? Well, let’s take it one step further. Since politics and values are a large part of our lives, we can say we are becoming experts in what we believe. Let’s say political thought is an engine of a car. When we look at our side, we see it through the eyes of an engineer or mechanic. We know combustion makes the pistons move, oil keeps them from ceasing, and the balance of air and gas. But when we look at the other side of the political divide? We look at the engine as through familiar eyes. ‘They’ have a machine – we know nothing more. And when we do not make connections with them, their way of doing things seems like sorcery. Then, when we don’t want to admit they may be right, we judge them as being inferior (i.e., ignorance and inadequacy). Final Thoughts: The Lenses of Society So, what do all these metaphors have in common? From an early age, we are taught a particular way of living, and we are forced to know what our life is all about. We see some things as good and others as bad, and we pass judgments on things we hardly understand. The randomness and polarity of these metaphors are to be how credulous we are as a species. Our ability to categorize is not meant for us to pass judgment but realize how fun it is to be human. When we find our most profound truth, we can see the same answers through so many avenues. Philosophy and practical knowledge don’t just come from dissecting the most significant writers, but through everything we do. Our differences are our chance to find interest in others. Our differences are our chance to realize something different. Life isn’t a single tunnel with all these tangents running off in the distance; instead, it is something that runs parallel to everything. Special Thanks! Photo by drmakete lab on Unsplash

Walking in Wonder: How Curiosity Encourages Your Health

Curiosity and the Classroom: Developing Lifelong Well-Being The classroom is about more than just education. As teachers set up the foundations for their students' futures, it becomes an environment that cultivates habits, beliefs, and perspectives that students may never have at home. But where is it—the boundary where life and education meet? As we watch the school environment instill values that make the societies of tomorrow, we find one at the center of it all—curiosity. Here, the lessons of a classroom extend beyond school walls, making a difference in student lives. With it, we can affect the well-being of the students psychologically, socially, and emotionally. In a world that harbors such pain and frustration, we can find these benefits, even if they are small, to be of great importance. So, I bring you the benefits of curiosity on our well-being. 6 Components of Psychological Well-Being Our psychological states are the bedrock in our ability to sustain our maturity throughout our lives. If too fragile, students may become a forgotten part of society outside the walls of what's considered normal. If it is too rigid? This closed perspective can lead to independence far beyond the limits of personal health. Autonomy: As students lead a life of wonder, many of the world's standards become antiquated. Giving students the tool of curiosity, they can venture forth on their own as they become innovators, inventors, and healthy components to society. Environmental Mastery: Having an ample understanding of the world leads us toward a steady life. This sturdy foundation is crucial in supporting psychological well-being. Purpose in Life: Without purpose or direction, students may become lost in the complexities of society. As they wonder about their internal and external environments, they have a reason to be better individuals and find happiness. Personal Growth: Closely related to having a sense of purpose in life, curiosity often leads to a road that helps students grow on all sides of their lives. In the classroom, they may be curious to find the solution. Emotionally, they will be interested in solving any turbulence. They will want to become all-around, better people. Positive Relations: Much of what we see is what we believe. Developing positive relations with the self and others helps students build foundations to help them when they fall. Self-Acceptance: The benefit of living in a complex society is that we have clear guidelines, but this also comes with a significant weakness—ignoring parts of the self that rarely fit in. However, if we encourage our students to be curious, it helps in two ways: The first is that it pushes them to find the parts of themselves that they have kept hidden while simultaneously making them accept others. 5 Components of Social Well-Being Being able to stay psychologically balanced is only part of the equation. As social beings, our ability to communicate with others is vital. With curiosity, we find six benefits to our social setting. What are they? Integration: Education is all about learning added information. As a student's mental and social model grows, they will need to integrate into the world through understanding lessons in their lives while also finding social cohesion. Contribution: Any attempt at being a good citizen starts with the ability to contribute to society. When students don't take the face value of everything they see, they gain the ability to find fresh ways to add their value to the world around them. Coherence: Language, the simple task we complete every day, is something that comes with varying depths of understanding. Finding a route to how others think allows students to communicate better as both listeners and talkers. Acceptance: With curiosity, the many shades of reality become more apparent than they are to a closed mind. Much of what we do is not in our control, and discovering limits allows students to know how to accept various factors in their lives. Actualization: The highest level in Maslow's hierarchy of needs comes when people can discover themselves, socially, emotionally, and psychologically. Emotional Well-Being As we combine all these factors, we find that many of them will help students lead to richer emotional lives. With a positive influence on all of them, it brings the benefit of positive emotional effects. Our feelings and beliefs influence so much of what we see and know. As it clears the many peculiarities of the world, curiosity allows students to achieve an increased sense of subjective happiness. When the world is no longer black and white, it becomes easier to see the beauty in the chaos. As we dive deeper into the psychological components of an educational renaissance, we find ethical factors that need consideration. As we expand on the definition of modern education, we must consider what it means to garner skills beyond the core curriculum. It will not only help students in the classroom but in life. And it is this, with the outreaching effect that it could have on society, that we are becoming bound to this cause. Special Thanks! Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash Gallagher, M. W., & Lopez, S. J. (2007). Curiosity and well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2(4), 236–248.

A New Political Language: Evolving from Eras Past

Individuals Standing Together or One Unit Moving Together If we take a comprehensive look at American politics' current state, we realize there are several trivial differences within the two major political parties. At first glance, the countless disagreements make it look like two different worlds living in stark contrast. When we drill down to both parties' nature, we notice that there may be more similarities than differences. As they have both grown from the same origins in American history, many values are held at both parties' core. Despite the perspectives they paint of each other, the conclusions may be an overreaction. Instead of different worlds, they may instead be different sides of the coin. Two beliefs that are of one. It is seen as a crude makeup in the mirror only because each side doesn’t fully understand itself or the other. Leadership comes in as a strength that can explain several political divides. Gun ownership, views on equal rights, and welfare expectations can all come from this single difference. As it seems, both sides believe the other is out for itself and refuses to move forward together. The left often paints Republicans with excessive selfishness and the right paints Democrats with extreme selflessness. Why might this be so? The debate of welfare and equal rights magnifies the progressive desire for a chance to move forward as one - and accepting the American public as a single unit moving forward together. Conservatives often attribute a different but similar perspective. One that says we are all individuals that are moving forward together. This difference may seem minor, but it can change how we view the world in significant ways: One world where it is right to go out of our way to help others vs. a world where we have to learn to be self-sufficient to grow stronger. One world where we must take guns from the whole to protect the few, vs. a world where we need guns if we are to defend ourselves. It is this interchangeable belief that we find the two parties disagreeing on. In the matter of abortion, it's reversed. Conservatives are the ones who see as a single unit, and progressives see us as individuals standing together, moving forward. And so, we find this combination at the core of all the modern-day debates. What we refuse to believe, however, is that both sides are part of a whole, and when we combine the two, we will find a policy that works for both sides of the American divide. A Matter of Strength The problem comes when we realize that both sets of beliefs are often accurate in different ways. Each provides a set of solutions that answer the question of morality in different scenarios. "Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish, and he eats for a lifetime." As we look at the political whole, we are continually balancing disagreeing on what it means to 'teach.' It is a matter of balance between empathy and strength. For if we are too passive, we forget about ourselves, and if we are too aggressive, we push everyone away. Often, when we look towards leadership, we idolize the two components in their absolutes. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are notable examples of the former. They bring peace and calm, that allows us to come together. We have leaders like Winston Churchill and Roosevelt, who moved forward with tact and purpose. We live in a society that is continuously growing out of a world where each answered the problems of the era. But as we specialize in our beliefs, our language must also develop with us. All too often, progressives see the Republican party's desired rigidity as a route to totalitarian fascism. Unable to see the empathy in their strength. All too often, conservatives see the Democratic party's desired passivity as a route to totalitarian communism. Unable to see the strength in their empathy. A New Set of Standards What we are seeing is the debate of an outdated era conflicting with our present state. It’s no longer communism or fascism, and we have long agreed on democratic governing. The questions should become a balance of understanding for: Individual Liberties vs. Collective Liberties Self-Growth vs. Growth of Society The Balance between Power and Empathy Selflessness vs. Self-Care We are living in a new era. For us to evolve into these modern times, we must accept a single fact. Our conversations may be of the same nature, but they are of entirely different languages. There needs to be a new level of trust to have conversations instead of arguments - agreements instead of chastising each other. The only question is, are you willing to step up to our new responsibilities? Special Thanks! Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Joe Biden DNC Speech: Our Moment to Make History and Hope Rhyme

As Joe Biden accepted his nomination to become the presidential hopeful, he followed the consistent pattern of painting two America’s. Scoring a 2.22, he comes in just under the average that we’ve seen thus far from Harris, Sanders, and the former first couple. An America Cloaked in Darkness As he begins, Biden puts the current state of American society almost entirely on Trump's shoulders, a man who "has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division." With his perspective, he then draws to some of the most troubling times in American history. It was nearly a century ago, when Franklin Roosevelt became president, and it was then when he “insisted” he would “recover and prevail, and he believed America could as well.” As a nation coming out of the Great Depression and facing the certainty of a World War, we can see that the current situation troubles Biden. This strong comparison becomes a paramount example of what Biden believes he can do for the everyday American reality. With a president “who takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cozies up to dictators, and fans the flames of hate and division,” Biden offers selflessness and humility to power his plans for change. A President with a Plan Though inauguration wouldn’t be until January, Biden has promised a strategy that gets “control of the virus that’s ruined so many lives,” by “implementing the national strategy I’ve been laying out since March.” This plan includes deploying “raid tests with results,” providing the medical supplies and protective equipment, and plans for schools and other public areas. To address the economy, Biden proposes building the foundations of American society. From developing transportation infrastructure to bringing in 5 million manufacturing and technology jobs, he believes that he will "rebuild our economy." In the face of an America "cloaked in darkness," Biden promises to “protect America,” from attacks seen and unseen. Years in the Making As we wrap up and conclude the major speeches from the Democratic National Convention, we notice a pattern. This pattern, found on both sides of the divide, is why we started America in Depth. As the two storylines of American history run congruently, there are, with no surprise, many areas where there are stark contrasts. Amidst the chaos, there has been a consistent pattern of removing empathy from points of the opposition. Just as with groundbreaking forms of art, it takes a careful calculation to understand why a picture or song may tell a story of truth. As Americans, we have had many successes and many failures. Creating a nation with a diverse set of ties is one of the achievements. And for the failures? We have found a complete inability to tie together what makes us all the same. Though this is the biggest problem, it also serves as a potential for global success. As Americans, we have magnified the problem of bringing together diverse thoughts. And so, it should be here that we find the rawest patterns of why the world lives in the distance.

The 7 C's of Creativity

As we begin to step out of the world of conventional hierarchy, new and dynamic skills are becoming more critical in the workplace, and creativity is among these. The need for turning out fresh ideas has cascaded down to the classroom as well. As students find their way through their young careers, creativity is expanding in definition and breadth. From problem-solving to their everyday needs, we find this to be true because it has always been more than just arts and crafts. Diving into the environment of creativity brings about different elements that make up different parts of this skill. As coined by The Journal of Creative Behavior, here are the 7 C's of Creativity. Creators Creators are the movers and shakers who bring creativity to the world. Whether they are artists, writers, or innovative thinkers, these are the people who bring imagination to reality. Without them, everything we dream about is just that – a dream. Too often, we believe that creating is some intellectual ability that some have, and others don't and restrict so many living a life that is only present in the physical. And though some creators are born, even they have to develop themselves to become better creators. Moving forward, we have to help our students be the creators they are at heart. We were all once children with exemplary imaginations. Let's get back to our roots and make the world better because of it. Creating The second C is the actual process of creation. It comes in many forms and can find it's way to students' lives in countless ways, becoming a process that is ever more important to our growing and dynamic world. How can you encourage the process in the classroom? Through projects? Unique problems? Collaboration? Collaboration A fundamental pillar of developing our world comes with diversity. We are all unique in our ways, and each of us has our strengths and weaknesses. In a hotbed of multiple imaginations, where students come together, is where we will find outcomes that refresh our civilization. Contexts Creativity doesn't exist without a place for it to occur. Our environments have a substantial impact on our abilities and perspectives. Diversifying experiences, sights, and individuals allow us to achieve our highest potentials. Developing the classroom and integrating new ideas encourages emerging patterns that are vital to the creative process. Creations It wouldn't be complete without an outcome! Ideas, art, solutions, projects, and behaviors can all be the final product of the process. IT takes a balance between convention and innovation for the most useful inventions, and it's a balance we should always encourage even in the face of potential failure. Curricula The final C is the education itself. As we combine the other components into a comprehensive whole, this is where we arrive! Final Thoughts Society and community begin in school when we are students. We base much of our lives on how we interacted in the classroom. As our experiences with teachers and other students become experiences with colleagues and bosses, it's essential to build a healthy environment. Modeling an environment that brings out the best of student creativity will carry out with benefits to our societies. Having a community of young minds that can collaborate and include diversity is the first step to having a world that can do the same. The second? The second is ensuring we sustain this ideal throughout the years of education. When we can achieve this, and do this consistently, we will create the future we all desire. Community Engagement Question How do you bring creativity to the classroom? Special Thanks! Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash Lubart, Todd. “Introduction.” The Creative Process, 2018, pp. 1–18., doi:10.1057/978-1-137-50563-7_1.

Barack Obama's DNC Speech: Finding a Leader in Biden

As we focus in on Barack Obama’s speech at the DNC, he took a score of 3.37 on the duality factor scale. Much of this was developed with a heavy focus on Biden’s abilities and as vice president. American Progress As the first African American president, Obama has long been focused on progress in terms of equal rights, and this showed in his speech this past week. He drew upon the successes of the civil rights movement as he mentioned leaders like the late John Lewis. He noted the contrasts of what the country looked like only decades ago as the day Obama was born, Lewis “was marching into a jail cell, trying to end Jim Crow segregation in the South.” This echoing of the past was the backdrop for his support of the democratic nominee, Biden. What makes this an important part of the speech is that he connects youth with youth, generation with generation. As he notes the landscape of American’s, he sees one in which many are beginning to lose faith in democracy. And with that, he discouraged this way of thinking, for if “anyone had the right to believe that this democracy did not work, it was those Americans.” Those who worked in “firetraps and sweatshops,” “farmers losing their dreams to dust,” various ethnic groups being “told to go back where they came from,” and religious follows “made to feel suspect for the way they worshiped.” As he tries to garner this motivation within American voters, he finalizes his point by saying that “those who benefit from keeping things the way they are – they are counting on your cynicism.” Biden’s Track Record: A Plan with Values To focus his speech on Joe Biden, Obama calls back on the many points on his eight-year presidential relationship with him. He noted the presidential hopefuls “resilience, born of too much struggle; [and] his empathy born of too much grief.” Drawing on Joe’s values, Obama also hints at his painful past. A past where he lost his daughter and wife and worked with a 4-hour commute while fathering his sons. Obama works to speak on Biden’s accomplishments in more than just personal values, as he notes what Joe has done in the political arena as well. In a time where the coronavirus has become a controversial topic, he brings up Biden’s part in managing H1N1 and preventing an Ebola outbreak. As this becomes a close relative to public health and economic vitality, he also speaks about the Affordable Care Act, and the Recovery Act – both managed and worked on by Biden. With his experience, values, and story, Obama paints a picture where Biden is the rightful choice for the presidency. Withering Democracy As he concludes the speech, Obama puts weight on those who were listening to his message. Voting for Biden will “give our democracy a new meaning,” “make it a better place,” and is what our success as a nation depends on. In his view, continuing a path of a Trump presidency is “how a democracy withers.” In this reality, it is where “our worst impulses [are] unleashed,” under a president who shows no interest in “finding common ground,” “helping anyone but himself,” and treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show.”

Media and Marketing: The Interdependent Relationship

With the terms like "fake news" being thrown around these days, we find a growing distrust of media outlets. And so, we see the wars on the media and news industry. Often, we comfort ourselves by demonizing the motivation of corporate executives. The problem in this situation comes with the fact that we live in a relentless economic structure. Now, before we take that statement as a call for revolution, let’s dissect it a little further. When we find ourselves upset at corporate greed, we play victim to ease ourselves of social responsibility. The reason for their strategies is that they meet the needs of the public. It's not that corporations are forcing trends, but following them. Marketing and Economics The law of supply and demand strictly applies to our society's many industries—the media industry included. The requirements of the public are rather rigid, as are the profit needs of the companies. And with this, we create a cycle that stagnates mainstream thought. The marketing teams of corporate giants are looking for the many markets they can create content for. As unfortunate as it is, these companies don’t tailor their strategies to develop groundbreaking markets that push society forward. When we realize this, we notice that it creates a general stagnation of the market. People keep demanding the same perspectives, and so they keep being supplied with the same information. When we cannot understand this, we become upset as we forget our part in politics and thought patterns. One thing we can’t change is the average perspective of the market and the public. As long as there is any competitive market, there will be no need for the public to change position or perspective. Fake News One problem in the media industry is the stark contrast of the biases within different news providers. However, the relationship between the viewers and publishers is on interdependent terms. When we step away from the political divide, we have a full view of the chasm between American thought. Each side of the American divide believes it has the whole truth when both are only a shade of reality. There is a formidable force within politics that limits our ability to change from both sides of the problem. As it comes with a distrust of those we oppose and fear of betraying one's own. Politics have almost reached the standard of religion with the number of preconceived notions we pull from specific affiliations. Opposing viewpoints go as far as judging morality, intelligence, and many other determinants of worth based on each other’s perspective. Competition proves as a rich source of motivation until two sides reach standards that grow in salience for all those involved. And it is here that we need to step into a mentality of collaboration to move forward as a civilization. The Stereotypes Another problem in the media and entertainment industries is the consistently perpetuated stereotypes. When viewing artistic interpretations of unfamiliar cultures or parts of society, we are prone to accepting these as full truths. It arises in forms of comparative comedy, movies, and personal interpretations of news stories. Like the other problems, developing beyond this is more than just dismantling the industry for its inadequacies. Their failure doesn't make them an example of evil, but it points to other parts of society's inefficiency. At the source of it all, is the distance between individuals from opposing corners of society. We must shift the public's beliefs through a more-in-depth representation of our opposition as we bring an understanding between two sets of people foreign to each other. The corporations will not do it, nor should they, because that’s not their part in society. The Responsibility of Awareness It is when we are aware of a problem we become frustrated with the system that creates it. But it is when we understand how big of a part we play; we change it. The media industry's frustrations should not be a call for revolution or the destruction of all that there is. It is up to the aware individuals to break into the industry and find the outlying trends large corporations won't or can't pick up. The demand won’t change until consumers can physically see the need for a new trend. The supply won’t change until marketers see trends shifting power away from their companies. Final Thoughts This society, like all others, is plagued with problems and inconsistencies. Our pride of individuation is just as much of a strength as it is a weakness. For when we strive to shine under different lights, we do just that. It's this tendency that can alienate entire populations with one-dimensional understandings. Everything that makes us stand out and feel unique from the world is another reason that pushes us away from the opposition. This call is not to demonize the other side for misunderstanding us. The problems we face are naturally human and affects each person on the face of this earth. We have the chance to dissect each other's differences in the name of unity as we come together as a community. And this means dismantling your beliefs as we strip away to find our highest truths. Special Thanks! Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Kamala Harris DNC Speech: Telling Her Story of Progress

Kamala Harris accepted her vice-presidential nomination on the 18th, and with it came an empathetic storyline for the democratic hopefuls. In it, Harris scored a 4.01 on our Duality Factor scale. Characteristically unique of the analyzed speeches during this convention, Kamala took a route that circumvented much talk about Donald Trump. As she builds the world around Biden and herself, she refrains from knocking down the opposition. A Daughter of Strife and a Father of Resilience Harris, a daughter of a single mother, told her story of the many struggles faced by her family. With a dream of curing cancer at the age of 19, her mother moved to America. Throughout, Kamala speaks on how her mother’s values translated into who she is today. It was in her mother, sister, second mother, and all those around her that she garnered her sense of community that she speaks on repeatedly throughout the speech. The story of the “most important person in her life,” fell to the illness that she sought out to beat when she was younger. Kamala’s touched upon her growth as an individual and the accomplishment in her life. Giving a fight for children, sexual assault victims, justice, and political service. All to come to the solemn moment of being on a stage her mother “would have never imagined.” Kamala uses this story to resonate with her journey with the hearts of her fellow Americans. Her empathy extended to the struggles of Joe Biden. In time, she talked about Joe and his younger years of fatherhood. Four hours on a daily train between Wilmington to Washington, breakfast with his suns every morning, stories before bed, and an unconditional love. For her, these, and the stories of all Americans, are the bedrock for being American and vice presidential nominee. The Past is Pushing Us Forward to Community “We stand on their shoulders,” is where Kamala builds her foundation for were her, Joe, and all American’s stand on. She points to how she is made from her mother’s life. Joe is built from his struggles. And we are all built on the strife of those who “organized, testifies, rallied, marched, and fought.”

Bernie Sanders DNC: A Fight for Democracy

Bernie Sander’s speech, the second to undergo our unique analytics, starts to put the score into perspective. As Michelle Obama’s came in around 1.59, this speech came in at 13.10. In his eight and a half minutes, he pointed to the opposition’s failure and inadequacy just as much as the former first lady did in a speech twice the length. This difference makes for an interesting comparison of the underlying division that hides under the call to unity. America in Scope Democracy has driven the United States through some of the worst eras in history. Through the Great Depression, through debilitating pandemics, and tense race relations, it has always been able to come out in success. As we are heading through troubled times, we are beginning to face problems that echo some of the worst decades of American history. Throughout his speech, Bernie Sanders was keen on focusing on the shape of the present day. With the “worst public health crisis in 100 years,” and the “worst economic collapse since the Great Depression,” he paints a picture that many American citizens are laying witness too. This weight is something that he isn’t taking lightly, and something that Trump is “incapable of addressing.” Presidential Negligence It is without hesitance that Bernie takes a stand against the Trump administration. In time, the president’s incapability grew into a case for negligence and fraud as the “unthinkable has become normal.” “Trump golfs,” was at the centerpiece of this claim as he claimed the current state of America to a burning Rome. It was through “fraudulent executive orders” that the president has been unable to address the economic problems of individuals, families, and small businesses. Through “rejecting science,” attacks on doctors, and “refusal to take strong action” to produce the needed equipment for health care workers, Bernie says that Trump has “put our lives and health and jeopardy.” Saving American Democracy Draining the swamp was a pitching point for the president's 2016 campaign. With it, the president reached the silent majority and disenfranchised individuals who felt like they lost their voice in the world. For Bernie, this has become Trump’s most significant act of negligence, and one that is beginning to lead America down the “path of authoritarianism.” In his eyes, it is not just Trump's incapability and negligence that calls for a change of leadership during these elections but the call to save American democracy with a win for Biden. In the closing statements, Bernie says that our democracy, economy, and the planet are all at stake in this election.

Looking Through the Magic Mirror

Magic mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? We all know how this story ends—the mirror was a truthful lad, the witch hated the truth, and died attempting to avenge the lady fairer than she. As I expand on my previous, Seeing the Full Picture: The Essences Beyond Creativity, we are just a bunch of big kids trying to express our highest truth—well, until the illness of adulthood whittles away at our joy. Before we come to realize our actual value in this world, our insecurities often push us into competition against all others. And when we feel the truth within ourselves, we only see one way to combat our wavering self-worth; by taking out the competition one by one. We only take away from ourselves when we compete with others. In the beginning, the queen was a rather fair lady, if I must say so myself (oo-la la), but her beauty quickly faded to reflect her depreciating self-worth. A problem of gender standards? Yes, but I’ll touch upon that at a different time. What we struggle with most of the time is being able to see each other as true equals. It always seems that even though we say others are equal, we have a subconscious disagreement. We end up equating equality with being identical. Imagine how boring that would be. We’d probably end up finding something else new to argue about. Politics. Religion. And to some extent, even this article right now. When we feel the need to communicate a message, we think others are missing an important truth, and we struggle in frustration because it’s our only truth. We wouldn’t do that if we thought their ideas were better, now would we? How many genuinely debate ideas without some perceived feeling of inequality. Whether it is “my idea is better,” or “I won’t let my silence help you feel superior,” we have to keep feeding a part of ourselves that likes to feel… good. For so many, the magic mirror is in the background, telling us who has the fairest ideas in the land, and we rarely like what it has to say, so I ask this, what is the difference between these two statements? “You’re wrong because your ideology is *insert insult here*.” “You’re wrong because your race is *insert insult here*.” From Human Rights to Intellectual Rights One reason I am so hesitant to take a standpoint of political ideology is because of that distinct point. We have spent the past few decades learning not to pass judgment based on skin color. But we are so keen on doing so based on contrasting ideologies. What we cannot see is that much of what we define as racism isn’t that. It goes beyond the level of our skin. It is fundamental misunderstandings, value systems based on foreign ‘languages,’ and an inability to see ourselves in others. We become quick to judge an idea because it comes from the opposite side of the aisle. How is this any different than racism? And with its similarities come similar outcomes. I’d be willing to put a wager that any counterpoint you use is like the defenses of racism generations ago. They’re wrong, stupid, evil, and the list goes on. Is this not another barrier that keeps us from coming together as humanity; the equality we all want? Magic Mirror A lesser-known artistic interpretation of this idea is a song of the same name by Leon Russell. “To the sad ones, I’m unhappy.
To the losers, I’m a fool.
To the students, I’m a teacher.
With the teachers, I’m in school. Magic mirror, won't you tell me, please. Do I find myself in anyone I see?
Magic mirror if we only could Try to see ourselves as others would.” A point here comes in our belief of the mind versus our physical bodies. And that happens because we think our views are always our choice, and our environments have no say. However, this may not be so true. As we look at behavioral psychology, we notice that our environment plays a large part in who we are, and our personality traits (The Big 5) are consistent throughout our lives. We then must question our neuroplasticity, and our brain's ability to adapt is why I brought up this song. Our beliefs are fluid to help or harm us, but too many of us don’t understand it well enough to make it our strength. When we plant ourselves to various identities, we force ourselves to see truths that agree with our world view. And though we understand that applies to the ‘them,’ we forget that it’s the same for us. The idea of us versus them and how ‘they’ must change to fit our world view becomes the only way. With every fact and story, we throw, we add another reason each side can’t agree. When two worlds are so different, we forget to see ourselves in all that oppose us. You Create What You Believe We often forget that our perceptions have a substantial influence on what we believe, and this comes with two fundamental biases that all humans have: Self-Confirmation Bias: This is our ability to fit what we see into our world view. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Like the last, it often affects our beliefs. And as we make predictions, we view the world in a way that proves it to be true. Depending on the theory, authors put several numbers on how many cognitive biases we have, from 17, 25, 52, to even 104. There is also one for being painfully aware of how biased we are and then being biased in the other direction because of it! That's more than I can fit into this post, as it is enough for a semester-long course, but it's worth being aware of. And remember, you have these biases just like everyone else. Human Imperfection As humans, we have the third guarantee in life beyond death and taxes, imperfection. We are just big, biological, and faulty machines, and each of us is filled with error codes. When we try to fix each other, it's like two broken machines trying to fix each other. There is a program that we can run to make this all work, empathy. When we base our contrasting ideologies on just facts, it's inevitable to run into endless disagreements. We must reach out and mend the differences between the world, or we will destroy ourselves. Final Thoughts The errors of the past are still a prevalent part of our society. However, they aren’t present in the same fashion they were. Racism is still a problem, not because of the same reasons. It may seem like splitting hairs, but that’s progress. It’s only after the significant discoveries that we realize how much we improved. The human condition is that of nature. It’s an endless evolution of discovering a more beautiful world. Just as the stars have condensed matter to create the elements of the physical world, we must let the differentiating pressures in society create a better ideology—not to destroy the old. Are you ready to accept the processes of debate and opposition and grow together instead of apart? Well, I am, and I hope you are too because it could make for a pretty cool world. Special Thanks! Photo by Inga Gezalian on Unsplash

Michelle Obama DNC Speech: A Call for Leadership

Michelle Obama, a top speaker choice at the DNC this week, has some powerful words for the state of America. In a call for leadership, she rated at a 2.12 (Calculation) on our duality factor scale. As our first analyzed speech, we’ll soon see how that stacks up against others. A Call for Empathy The former first lady focused on four things in her pre-recorded speech: Empathy Leadership Trump Biden As she called on Americans to go to the polls as they did in 2008 and 2012 for her husband, the need for empathy has the brightest spotlight. It became a cure-all answer for fixing the issues from racial issues to the pandemic. As she focused on its importance, she also emphasized how simple it is—something “we teach our children.” It came to no surprise when she showed disappointment for a country that has lower its standards as we have stopped “requiring empathy of one another.” After expressing her frustration with the current leadership, she pointed us toward Biden to find the empathy “we are all yearning for.” Two America’s Throughout the speech, Michelle Obama made a stark contrast between two sides of a deeply divided America. She points to “goodness and the grace that is out there in households and neighborhoods all across the nation.” However, it wasn’t long before that, where she said her children, like others, “are looking around wondering if we’ve been lying to them about who we are and what we truly value.” She paints a world where there are “people shouting in grocery stores, unwilling to wear a mask to keep us all safe.” Throughout her 18 ½ minutes, there are various contrasts between an empathetic America, and one filled with entitled and greedy individuals. As we look deeper into her two visions, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate her disdain of leadership from fellow citizens. Biden Expectation As she shifted her message towards Biden, she developed empathy for him in many ways. Speaking about the loss of his wife, daughter, and son, she tells a story of the democratic nominee filled with pain. This hardship is her foundation for why he will bring stable leadership to the country, as he will bring a sense of understanding to American citizens. She made it clear she believed Trump was the “wrong president for our country,” a man who is “clearly in over his head.” With hefty expectations, she tells America that Biden will push us forward in healthcare, education, and equal rights. She noted how he is our only chance to pursue the “most basic requirements of a functioning society,” and “keeping progress alive.” Where’s the Empathy? As she prided herself on her empathetic message throughout the speech, she spoke on how hard the presidency was and why Biden was the better answer. However, there’s one question that she doesn’t answer. Where’s the empathy? The silent majority, hinted at throughout her speech, goes with no empathy from the former first lady. Garnering understanding is easy when individuals think and act like us, but not for those we don't understand. And she gave some hefty persecutions to those she opposes. From "emboldening white-supremacists," to "intimidating voters." She claims the high road is the “only way,” but degrades an opposition with the infliction of entitlement and greed. She claims the high road but shows no empathy for a police force that uses pepper spray and rubber bullets on peaceful protestors for “photo-ops.” And so, we must wonder about these inconsistencies. They make for a palatable speech to your peers, but hard to swallow perceptions for the opposition. Why is it when empathy can heal the American divide, she looks at her opposition in such a dim light? And why is it that empathy should be required of the current leadership when it isn’t there in return? Is empathy not for healing divides? Or is it just for uniting a single side?

America in Depth

The United States is a country that has been suffering a deep divide for quite some time. As we grow in the number of things we stand for, we have created a distance between them. For too long, we have played into the mentality of us vs. them. Thinking with this division garners perceptions that seem unreconcilable. Too many of us blame 'the other' to free ourselves from being on the wrong side. And too many of us take credit and write 'the other' out of the success story. This way of thinking creates layers inside the political discussion that makes everything unclear and has turned the world into black and white - blue and red. It has become commonplace for us to instill a certain amount of fear that stagnates diversity acceptance. I don't mean on a physical level, but the cognitive level too. We either close ourselves to have an open mind or close our open minds to the possibility of accepting closed minds and forces all of us into a position between two powerful forces. The first force is the common fear of the other side. As we stack their inadequacy, we belittle the quality of their thoughts and ideas. The second force, often ignored, is the fear of our allies. As we build fear of the other side, we also fear disagreeing with our current position because we know what lens they would see us through. And these individuals often make up most of our circle. If we step away from it all and take in all the contrasting viewpoints, the bigger picture looks peculiar. Most times, we suffer from several imperfections of human intellect. In-Group/Out-Group Thinking: A fundamental dynamic of social psychology. Here, we see our natural inclination to categorize and divide to survive spreads to our fellow humans. And so, we treat our societal 'in-group' with preference over those we disagree with. Group-Thinking: As we succumb to the tendency to fall into a distinct group, we confirm what we believe and disaffirm any opposition without taking a second look. This thinking causes two parts of society to view the world in such a different light. Biases: Ultimately, our inability to see other's viewpoints pushes us to one of our weaknesses—biases. What seems like an apparent reality to us may not be so, and through the many cognitive biases we have, it often stays that way. That's why we look to attribute a score that takes in these dynamics into play and creates a 'fear factor.' Produced to examine how strong the two forces of fear are, it points to how likely they are to keep us from working with opposing minds. Not a Fact Checker Fact-checkers ensure the truth of statements, and they put a score to an individual's accuracy when making an argument. However, there are more than facts when we are trying to determine someone's perception. The problem we are looking to clear is not the use of facts, no. It's looking at how we perceive these facts. Political leanings don't split the nation; they don't have the strength to create a national divide alone. What breaks the country is a matter of differentiating storylines. These stories are essential to each of us, and they can twist the reality of any fact or figure. Think about Nazi Germany, the atrocities of Stalin, and Cold War politics. What if we were on the other side of the story? Perception is complex, and we are complex beings with simple needs. Our logical brains need a story to fit the next puzzle piece into its proper vacancy. And even if it doesn't fit right, we will make it fit. Anger signifies that the piece we are trying to fit in doesn't match in shape or size. Frustration is us subconsciously trying to trim reality, so we don't have to see the bigger truth, whatever it may be. Doing so means we have to rebuild our conceptual model on the topic. And no matter who we are, that has the chance to create a domino effect that can cause internal instability. As said by James Baldwin, and I paraphrase, panic is the first sign of pain. It comes before we sense the frustration and anger and often keeps us from understanding our underlying problems with any depth. But we can't continue ignoring these problems, nor can we rid the world of them. A toothache can be the warning that saves our life. As much as we don't want pain, facing it is what will lead us to unity. Our political adversaries are the ones who will keep us walking a road of great regret. Degrees from Neutrality The measure of the fear factor is how many degrees from neutrality a speaker is. Here, the definition of neutrality is more than just the center that exists between opposing forces. Instead of discovering an actual reality, as done through fact-checking, the degrees from neutrality measures how many steps away we take from our opposition—the theoretical distance created between the two. Salience We measure each step with the salience attributed to each point: Minor Occurrences: A claim for an argument substantially based on personal values. Moderate Occurrences: A claim for an argument substantially based on social, lawful, and cultural values. Major Salience: A claim for an argument substantially based on life or death decisions. Direct Alignment: These factors actively create distance with their opposition, using a direct agreement with one's position or disagreement with the opposition. Oppositional Failure: This is a statement that would otherwise be a perceptual recall/reality/outlook. It is substantially based on the fault of opposition. Compared to an inadequacy, this is the noncompliance or defiance to miss an expectation. Positional Openness: This is a statement that would otherwise be a perceptual recall/reality/outlook. It is substantially based on openness towards one's position. Focus on: what the person/program does and their ability to be a sufficient choice, and what the individual/program does to achieve a goal. Indirect Alignment: These are factors that passively align someone with their position through the use of empathy and understanding. \ Oppositional Inadequacy: This statement would otherwise be a perceptual recall/reality/outlook but focuses on the fault of opposition. Compared to a failure, this is the inability to meet an expectation. Positional Empathy: This is a statement that would otherwise be a perceptual recall/reality/outlook. It focuses on the empathy of one's position, individual experiences of the individual/topic at hand to draw in an understanding of what they stand for, and what happened to them. Indirect Unity: These are factors that indirectly create closeness with their opposition through empathy and understanding of the opposition. Oppositional Empathy: This is a statement that would otherwise be a perceptual recall/reality/outlook. It focuses on empathy for the opposition, individual experiences of the individual/topic at hand to draw in an understanding of what they stand for, and what happened to them. Positional Inadequacy: This is a statement that would otherwise be a perceptual recall/reality/outlook. It focuses on the fault of one's allies. Compared to a failure, this is the inability to meet an expectation. Direct Unity: These are factors that actively create closeness with their opposition using positional failures and oppositional successes. Oppositional Openness: This is a statement that would otherwise be a perceptual recall/reality/outlook. It focuses on openness towards one's opposition. Focus on: what the person/program does and their ability to be a sufficient choice, and what the individual/program does to achieve a goal. Positional Failure: This is a statement that would otherwise be a perceptual recall/reality/outlook. It is substantially based on the fault of one's allies. Compared to an inadequacy, this is the noncompliance or defiance to miss an expectation.

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