Perspective is what brings to life a set of data points that on their own lack clear meaning.

But like all things, perspective can be a double edged sword: in the best of moments it gives us a deeper understanding of the gestalt of a system and in the worst, fills our minds with a skewed belief of a situation that paints a negative view. Some might more commonly refer to this as the half full/half empty phenomenon.

What’s interesting is that these tendencies in perspective are a choice. When I used to see patients I would oftentimes share two points on this subject. One was, “Don’t compare your real life to everyone else’s Christmas card.” And the other was “Give yourself permission to live in fantasy because reality is a depressing place.” Why did I say these things? Well, first, I never had a client come in and say, I’m doing great so I signed up for therapy even though I don’t need it. So certainly, by definition, everyone that came in had an issue they wanted to solve. There were some that had axis 1 disorders like bipolar or major depression but by and large the people I saw suffered merely from a perspective problem followed by failing attempts to make the world make sense.

The irony is that the world isn’t fair, doesn’t make sense, and can’t be controlled. Studies show that people who are perpetually happy are simply born that way and those that see the world as a happy place see not reality, but rather, their positive interpretation of it. So what does any of this after to do with politics and national readiness?

The nation as a whole that uses the power of positivity to be mindful, present, energized, and inspired is the country that will capitalize on a joint movement of power and leadership.

Today we focus more on being reactive to issues in our country. We are experiencing and expressing a joint cathartic sharing of worries that is bringing with it a cloud of anger and discomfort to our people. In therapy, we used to have a saying, “Up to 25 you’re a victim, after 25, you’re a volunteer.” It was never meant to be harsh but rather to help someone gain a new perspective – one that focused on recognizing that no matter what has happened to you or is happening to you – you have a choice in how you react to it.

We can’t ignore or sweep under the rug the problems in our nation but we can approach them and both parties with a view of hope and a plan of action rather than despair and worry. We can choose a pathway that elevates and a national position built on inclusion rather than separation or hierarchy.

We can choose these perspectives….but will we?

Photo by Anika Huizinga on Unsplash Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Consolidation of Power: Efficiency or Control?

There is always a frustration when politics seems laborious, filled with bureaucracy, and frankly, just slow. Additionally, there are expenditures that are confusing and seem inflated. And then there is an attempt to change the system. At the surface, it seems logical and in line with general business practices. Who doesn’t want to achieve more at a lower cost?

But on the other hand, there is a challenge in politics that is absent in the rest of the business world. This isn’t the place where we are trying to make a buck but rather, we are trying to run a nation, protect our people, and maintain functional states. In short, we have competing goals. And more than that, we have no clear deliverables.

What are we selling?

Saying that we want to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (defense), promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity sounds great…until you ask the question, “How?” and then when you require others to pay for it while not necessarily clarifying what they are buying…it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that people will be upset – for one reason or another. Our nation is too diverse in beliefs not to expect such differences of opinions.

Yet, as it is said in the military, what is our mission goal? What does mission success look like? And how do we come together to achieve that goal faster, better, and as a group, rather than based on one individual belief?

If it were easy, it wouldn’t be politics 🙂

This is why our founding fathers displayed such brilliance (my perspective). They had no knowledge or understanding of what would come in the future. The internet, the world wide data ocean, the concept of space flight were all inconceivable. But the recognition that life would be different, that the world would advance, that part was predictable. So they had only to design a flexible but stable set of parameters that would allow us to both maintain structure while also evolving as needed. This is the basis of the balance of power concept. With three branches and checks across them, we have a strong system….until….

The catch in this system is the ability to find holes in the fabric, the chain of connections. There are rules about how the congress represents each state. When it’s functional, the state representatives find win-win situations across the nation. When it’s dysfunctional, the required distribution of power results in gridlock and while this means little happens, it also means less fails. In and of itself, the messiness of politics that frustrates us also helps maintain stability.

But what happens when there is control from one branch to another? What happens when there is a consolidation of departments and people within and across the state and federal levels – across the three departments at the federal level? The word efficiency is used….but if we see the forest instead of the trees, the impact of power consolidation can be better seen and understood. In business, this can create a very brittle system because it relies on only a single viewpoint. In politics, it can result in a ruling class – controlled by a single entity. Regardless of personal beliefs, the greatest asset in our nation is diversity because it ensures and protects the strength and flexibility of our system. Consolidation of power negates this global asset and jeopardizes our future stability.

Of paramount concern should be the protection of equity because the nation that optimizes all its assets is the nation that will maintain its global leadership status.

Photo by Rhett Wesley on Unsplash Photo by Kelsey Knight on Unsplash Photo by Analia Baggiano on Unsplash

Science, Technology, and the Media

A recent video ( elucidated a very concerning, yet common phenomenon – scientific misuse. In the segment, the commentator suggests that technology is poisoning children and the guest discusses how tablets being brought into the classroom are not magically making education better, that depression and anxiety are on the rise, and that technology is the underlying culprit because it is destroying brains.

When we make accurate statements mixed with inaccurate attributions, we confuse reality by misusing information.

It is true that depression and anxiety are the on the rise – but for many, many reasons that have nothing to do with technology.

It is true that technology has created access to information all the time, from everywhere, to include social media.

It is also true that overloading the mind with data, especially emotionally-laden data, can shut down the reasoning centers of the brain and be detrimental to development and functioning.

HOWEVER, and it’s a big however, technology is the tool, not the culprit. To say that technology should be banned because it gives you access to both good and harmful material is like saying we should never drive cars because although they provide us with transportation we need, they also put out emissions into the air and some people are hurt physically or financially in accidents. Some people even die. Can you imagine an ad campaign that strung together a series of deadly accidents and concluded one should never drive again?

This is an interesting analogy though because we do make these kinds of ads but they most often fall into two categories: 1) Don’t drink and drive and 2) Don’t text and drive. Why? Because it isn’t the car that’s evil, it’s the misuse of it that causes the accidents.

Getting the right diagnosis of any problem is imperative. Otherwise, when you give everyone with a headache Tylenol…boy will the family of the guy who had an aneurysm be upset when he dies.

Technology is a tool, not a teacher. It provides access to information we can’t reach in a book like talking to an astronaut or creating a schematic drawing of a building we can imagine but can’t yet draw. But overuse or misuse of technology can be harmful just as too many strawberries or too much exercise or too much relaxation can be harmful as well.

We need to remember that the rule of moderation has merit, that the goal of science is to diagnose and treat with clarity, and that face-validity (when something sounds real but might not be) is a dangerous use of science.

If we don’t respect these rules, it is nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction and eventually it will undermine the truth across communities, topics, and the nation. Decisions based on fear should be made with extreme caution and any time a recommendation involves all or nothing ideas, it is rarely the wisest choice.  As a nation, we need to be good consumers of information and question sources, ideas, and others often.

Photo by Samuel Zeller  Samuele Errico Piccarini  Cody Davis on Unsplash