As I scroll through my Twitter feed and Facebook, looking at trending topics, it’s easy to look at the media outlet originating the article, and assume how they will come down on a certain topic. Being a normal human being, you automatically zero in on the media outlets that support your way of thinking.
It’s kind of funny (not funny ha-ha, but funny strange) that there are two outlets covering the exact same incident and tweak a few words or add/delete a certain detail and the news story says something totally different. It can be infuriating to see such polar opposites in the news. Meanwhile, everyone claims they are right. And if you dare express an opposing option…option mind you…not necessarily an opinion, you get slammed down and shouted down until you either shut up and shut down, or just go away.
Propaganda is a tricky business; and people on all sides of the issues are slinging it around. Many of these people are well meaning, and some are clearly not. Some news outlets are so sure they are being righteous and truthful, and so afraid that the general population, often referred to as a clump, “‘The American People’ are concerned…or aware…or like this…or think this… or that,” will be mis-led, so they take the responsibility upon themselves to lead them into a certain way of thinking.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I listen to a statement about what concerns the “American People” and I think, “How dare they speak for me? They don’t even know me.” What these people are doing is stating their opinion as fact and use inflammatory statements intended to make the “American People” feel left out or stupid or in the minority if they disagree.
OK, I get it. It’s about ratings and free speech and being the first to present the facts. Of course. That is what it is. We have to stop blaming the media, the politicians, and the advertisers and get informed. It’s a contest, a race for who’s on top, who’s got the best ratings and that’s all part of a capitalistic society. But if we, the “American People,” want to avoid getting caught up in the vortex of a propagandized agenda, we must be the ones to stop the reactivity. We must be the ones to slow down the rate at which we listen, think and respond. We are really the ones who have the power to change the culture to what we want it to be, not what some politician or news source wants it to be. But we have to stop being lazy in our listening.
Blaming and finger pointing is lazy and reactive. We need to accept what is and embrace it. If we are seeing a divided society or propaganda-slinging, we need to stop resisting it and hoping it will go away, but we need to see it for what it is and ask ourselves, “So what do we do about that?” Awareness is the beginning of change. When we are aware of what we are dealing with, we can develop a plan of action. Blaming and finger pointing is not a plan of action.
If different media outlets are spouting totally different stories, then we need to hear what’s out there. We need to dig through the rubble and find facts, and differentiate them from opinions. It may be painful to listen to an outlet that doesn’t necessarily sing to your tune, but it’s a great chance to learn how to sing harmony.
As a therapist, I am constantly aware that one side sounds correct and credible until you hear another perspective, then when you hear all perspectives, it can get pretty messy with blaming and name calling and mudslinging. But if you make a judgment based on one side of the story and start jumping on the bandwagon to oppose, (Can we even say, destroy?) the opposition, we will never find the truth. We will never find a solution. We will just continue to get more and more divided, and factionalized. When a country or a society is divided and factionalized, it is weakened. It begins to crack. Then remember earlier we talked about how some of this is done by well meaning people? OK, but there are those out there that would utterly destroy our community, society, or country. They will take advantage of our naivety, our emotional reactivity and lack of intestinal fortitude to do the real work of searching for truth.
So how do we protect our society and ourselves? We need to each, personally make sure we are grounded and connected to the source of truth. Many studies have been done showing how meditation changes the brain. It helps you process toxic emotions; it reduces anxiety and depression; it helps you think clearer and increases empathy and compassion. Those that would divide us know that if they can get us stirred up to stop thinking and just react on our triggered emotions, our capacity for empathy decreases. We are no longer able to hold conflicting thoughts in our minds and process them. We become sheep being led to the slaughter of someone else’s agenda based in power and control. That is a dangerous place for a society to be.
I am not advocating any one type of meditation because there is a place in every belief system or faith to define it as you will, but the truth is we all, every single one of us, need to slow down the reactivity and learn to take a breath and detach from the drama and propaganda (from all sides) and learn to listen to the wisdom within. It’s there. It’s just waiting on you to breathe.
Marianne Clyde, award winning therapist and business person, is an expert in Mental Health in the workplace. Speaking to businesses and associations about empowerment, team building and relationship networking, she is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, in practice for over 27 years, energizing speaker and dauntless world traveler. She lived in Japan for over 8 years and has spent time in at least 20 developing countries, teaching about recovery from trauma, personal empowerment and interpersonal relationships.
She has met with child soldiers, amputees and rebel army leaders in Sierra Leone, visited with victims of rape as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, taught doctoral students in Afghanistan about the effects of stress on mental health and spoken to large gatherings in Pakistan after visiting with earthquake victims in the Northwest Frontier. After partnering with the former Ambassador from Malawi to Japan, to establish village maize gardens and other projects, the Ambassador had this to say, “Marianne is an excellent trauma counselor, networker, change agent and revolutionary. Through her initiatives, the poor children and women of Malawi have realized new lives. Child mortality has been mitigated by the provision of clean borehole water. Hospitals are no longer overcrowded by children who were admitted due to hookworms. School going rates have doubled as no child is soaked while at school. In return Malawian women call Marianne ANAPHIRI meaning a woman from the great clan.”
She has written and published numerous articles, appeared on radio and television worldwide, commenting on topics ranging from gun violence to having a happy marriage. Host and producer of her own TV shows, she has also hosted a call in radio show and has produced Moments of Mindfulness Meditation CD.
After launching 2 best-selling books, Peaceful Parenting: 10 Essential Principles and Un-Leashed: Practical Steps to Get Your Life Unstuck, she has now released her most powerful book to date, Zentivity™: How to Eliminate Chaos, Stress and Discontent in Your Workplace. As chaos, reactivity and polarization reign, whether your workplace is in politics, business or home, she recognizes and advocates for mental health in the workplace. She encourages readers to establish a strong internal locus of control, so as not to get knocked off balance by the winds of opinion, changes in the economy or upheaval in politics. Only then, she asserts, can you truly make the changes that need to be made. Only then, can you even begin to be the leader you are called to be.
Marianne is the founder of the Marianne Clyde Center for Holistic Psychotherapy, in Warrenton, VA, and the founder of Be the Change Foundation, empowering and equipping women in need to build successful home-based businesses.