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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Denial, part 2: How we view and face problems


With a contentious election fast approaching, there is no denying that we are a country with problems.  Either way we vote, that is/will be true.  Anyway, I was talking with a friend today about how we deal with problems as a society.

It occurred to me as a society we have a number of different ways we deal with major issues.  There are:


  • Those who want to be part of the solution
    • Those who see the problem and feel compelled to face it head on. 
      •  For example, as a resident of the region around Ferguson, for me, this could be someone who sees the distrust between law enforcement and the minority community and instead of dismissing one side, listen to concerns of all sides.  That doesn't mean necessarily seeing equal culpability, but means respectfully treating the concerns of those who legitimately want peace.
  • Those who are fine with the problem.
    • Those who know they are part of problem and don't care as it benefits them.
      • In the Jim Crow era, many people benefited from keeping keeping discriminatory laws in place for various reasons such as keeping political power or of fear of competition (such as in sports).
    • Those who don't don't see themselves as being part of the problem, but are.
      • They often justify their own behavior as legitimate even , therefore not problematic.  For example, self-promoters who justify jumping into a conflict/controversy claiming to want to help this person or this group when their hidden motive is profit/power--with an end result of inflaming the situation.
  • Those who see the problem, but want to push them aside.
    • Those who see the cost of dealing with the problem as "too expensive".
      • Either the problem seems too intractable and therefore too stressful, so just like a car with curious annoying noise, it is easier to turn up the music and pretend the problem doesn't exist.
      • Personally or as a society dealing with certain issues, means giving up something such as time, money or comfort.
  • Those who see the problem, but convince themselves the problem is minimal or has an easy solution.
    • For them, it is easier to live with not concerning themselves with the size or complexity of problem than it is to actually face a problem.
      • For example, our national budget.  Some people believe if we just raise taxes on the 'rich' enough that we will be able to pay for programs.  
      • Also, racial issues.  We know that there are underlying problems, but is we don't have to live the issues daily, it is easier to convince ourselves that the problem is limited to 'this' or 'that' area.


My friend mentioned another way or category of people and how they deal with problems, which I though was insightful.
  • Those who blame the messenger, ignoring the message.
    • Politicians are famous for this.  They are confronted with a message that is not necessarily favorable to them and they turn around and attack the messenger's credibility.  Their hope is to distract from having to answer the message.  
      • For example, a whistle-blower who publicizes a secret program of questionable constitutionality is often attacked by those are tied to the program.

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I'm not sure what my takeaway from this blog is except this.  
  1. It is best to face problems completely head-on if at all possible.  
  2. When you can't face it completely, face it in steps and where necessary let it be known that's what you are doing.
  3. Sometimes it is necessary to push aside facing problems to deal with larger problems that arise.  But, that doesn't mean permanently facing dealing with the original problem.

Just my musings for the day.

-- Rich