Monday, June 11, 2018

A Moment to Reflect

Finished my school reports. Still working on BOE piece. Here are a few thoughts on this election season.

“Theater teaches you empathy to understand those who are not like us.” -John Leguizamo #TonyAwards⁠ ⁠

Re-watching some episodes of "No Reservations" and I think the most crucial lesson Anthony Bourdain tried to teach us was to not be afraid. To go, and see, and taste, and to not be afraid. - Sara Toth

As I watch the candidates and their teams move out through the County with their respective messages, it seems that there are two major themes in play: empathy, and fear. And this is what voters will have to decide. What motivates them? Someone who appeals to their innate sense of empathy, or someone who plays upon their inner fears?

Do we choose a future where plans are made to include everyone, or do we draw the things that are ours close to us in fear that others may take them? Even in Howard County the choice is between creating a bigger table or building a wall, metaphorically speaking.  Perhaps this is true in every election. It seems especially significant right now.

I have heard some complaints about candidates who are bringing national issues into local elections. It seems to me that the national mood has thrust itself onto the local scene. Do we believe that diversity and equity make us stronger, or do we believe it dilutes/pollutes/weakens what we hold dear? 

“All I want is what’s coming to me. All I want is my fair share.” - Sally Brown (Charles Schulz)

Sally Brown, in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, lives a comfortable life where all her needs are met. And yet her (almost demanding) letter to Santa comes from a place of fear. Fear that she won’t get enough. 

As you evaluate candidates during this election season, keep an ear out for those who are appealing to your inner Sally Brown. Once they engage your fear the rest of your brain turns right off.  

Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately. (“Impact of Fear and Anxiety”, University of Minnesota)

So what’ll it be, HoCo? Fear? Or empathy?

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