Did you ever stop to think that our challenges with healthcare, education, immigration, debt, and the environment go on and on? The reasons for this are many but primarily persist because of our leaders' approach to these challenges. We need less spin, groupthink, pandering, intransigence, and dysfunction, and more truth, collegiality, and synergy, and we as a people, need to shun the former and elevate the latter.
Without science, technology, and study we experience things on a very limited scale--a few years, 1/100 of an inch, a few miles, and only as they directly affect us. With science, technology, and study, we see galaxies, solar systems, microscopic life, molecules, atoms, secondary effects, and how things affect others.
Perceiving what is true is also difficult because people do not communicate truthfully. We all want to have others see us in a positive light. We all mask our interests and create narratives, telling others what we want them to hear and what we think they want to hear.
We also see things as it advantages us to see them. If an approach to education, healthcare, immigration, the environment, tax rates, or debt benefits our professional group, political party, and/or ourselves, then we favor it regardless of its functionality and long-term effects on others.
And evolution has wired us not only to pursue self-interest but also to absorb our groups' thinking. Groupthink creates social cohesion and aids survival, but it also clouds our perception of truth and what works best. No matter with which groups we affiliate--Conservative, Republican, Democrat, Caucasian, Hispanic, African American, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or other--we generally see our challenges and the world as those in our group see them. We recognize groupthink as outsiders but not as insiders.
To discern truth, our initial perception is only the beginning. We must ponder our perceptions, utilize science, obtain additional perspectives via reading and traveling, verify what others tell us, and consider competing points of view. Perceptions supported by more and more evidence over time make them iteratively more accurate, us more intelligent, and our solutions more effective.
Growing up in rural Central New York, God, church, country, community, family, education, and work represented most of what was important. Those who protested Vietnam, wanted to expand social programs, and wanted to protect the environment were not appreciated. This was the early groupthink that I absorbed.
Then, I went half way across the country to Purdue University, traveled to 24 countries, lived in Communist Poland, immersed myself in science, married a woman from Poland, and did graduate work at Cornell University. And all a sudden, life and the world were less simple. My family and friends spanned the country, world, and ideological spectrums. There were two sides to Vietnam; women, minorities, and other people throughout the world did not have the opportunities that I had; and we were doing immense damage to our planet. My perspectives and the perceptual inconsistencies they precipitated increased exponentially during this time. And ever since, I have eagerly sought new perspectives, pondered them, and worked to resolve any inconsistencies.
By nature and nurture, I am independent and skeptical--suspicious of my own and others' perceptions, spin, self-interest bias, and groupthink. I realize that everyone can make important contributions to our well-being, and as we involve people with different perspectives in our organizations, they function better. Most interests are represented. Progressives identify potentially advantageous changes and push for their implementation. Conservatives defend the status quo and identify the adverse effects of changes. Moderates, at their best, pilot the proposed changes, examine their effects, mitigate any negative effects, and support the changes that prove advantageous. Like the defense, judge, and prosecutor in a criminal trial, those in each group should perform their roles in a respectful and orderly manner.
Our leaders', news media's, and our own spin, groupthink, pandering, and intransigence are not healthy. Having predominately conservatives in our rural areas, religious institutions, and two major news sources, and predominately progressives in our cities, educational institutions, and most other major new sources is not healthy. We obtain better--fairer, more effective, and more widely supported--outcomes when we expose ourselves to competing points of view, populate our organizations and communities with people representative of all walks of life and political views, appreciate one another, and work together.