There are five states of mind that I have noticed impact how we choose to participate in American society, especially in how we direct our lawmakers. It's my observation that not being conscious of how these five operate as a feedback loop in our minds is usually because we have stopped critically thinking about our lives, outsourcing it to others to do for us instead.
Outsourcing our minds leaves us more susceptible to being manipulated.
I have also observed that those least likely to be manipulated and to engage in society rationally, are the ones who are fully aware of how they operate within these states of mind.
My argument is that the best way to participate in creating a New America is to know who you are because you have thought about it and not let someone give you a "branded" identity, do not make fear-based choices, don't think you are owed something because of who you say you are, don't accept responsbility if you aren't also given authority for how to execute your responsibilities, and choose whom you trust with care.
Notice that I am not taking partisan sides. That's because these states of mind are American. They are human. We are each of us moving through them at any given point in time. Businesses, governments, political systems, families, associations, friendships...these states of mind are always there. It's the awareness we bring to them that infuses them with their power.
Put another way: be authentic. Start thinking. Stop outsourcing your mind.
Find your own mattering and meaning.
The question, "What does it mean to be an American?" is open. Are we still a land of opportunity where we can be whatever we want to be? And if so, then does who I identify myself to be entitle me to something? We can either default to a "tribe" or we can consciously decide what our values are.
When the myth of America began, it seemed our resources were unlimited. Whoops.
If resources are limited, then the myth of boundless opportunity in America also has to be limited. The question then becomes, Who deserves that dream most? Whomever the "most deserving" turns out to be is the one who gets the most access to the limited resources. And the one with the access surely doesn't want to give it up.
If you're not the one who gets to control all the things, then you are the one who gets controlled, to whatever degree. Frankly, this is the state of mind that tends to frost me
the most. It's Ground Zero for where people zap us of our minds with the covert bullying that whatever happens in organizations and systems to strip one constituency of power is for the greater good of everyone else.
Too often it's just a way we get to control access to those juicy resources.
One way we get controlled is by others off-loading their work on to us, giving us the responsiblity but not the authority. This absence of personal agency is what leads to burn out. Look at all the work our corporate and government bureaucracies dump on doctors, patients, teachers, civil workers...and look at who has the highest rates of anxiety, depression, and anxiety: people who have been stripped of autonomy.
When we're afraid of scarcity, compounded by fears of losing what we have if we challenge the control over us by those with the access to the resources, and we manage not to be burnt out, then we wonder who can we trust?
There's always someone who wants to tell us he or she has the answer...
And so we either find ourselves right back at the top of the feedback loop, ready to embrace the razzle dazzle, or we wonder if maybe it's not us, it's the story.
What happens when your life doesn't seem to fit your expectations of it any longer? Do you need a new story or a new life?
In America, we need a new story.