It Is What It is

Our national election is less than two months away and I find myself reflecting on present and future much like I would a birthday milestone. What is working well? What needs to change? How will the future look if we stay the same course?

In the preface of Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection she imparts what she’s learned from almost two decades of research: “Once you see a pattern, you can’t un-see it. When the same truth keeps repeating itself, it’s hard to pretend that it’s just a coincidence.

This is the first time we have ever had a President use Twitter as his primary source of communication. We have all seen and experienced his behavioral patterns as a direct result of his propensity for social media. Even some of his most ardent supporters have acknowledged that he is impulsive, easily triggered and thrives in creating chaos. Often when someone disagrees with him, he fires back with insults — or he actually fires them. He uses dehumanizing language for groups of people and petty nicknames for people he dislikes. I would not have tolerated this behavior in my teenaged sons. The bar on dignity and decency has been lowered. His pattern has remained constant for almost 4 years and is likely to go unchanged because it goes unchecked. We can’t avoid being impacted by it since it dominates every social media outlet, news cycle and even late night shows. While his behavioral patterns are effective in garnering him the attention he desires, it is exhausting for us to be bombarded with it from morning to night. The President is actually capturing more of our attention than the legitimate conversations we should be having to resolve ongoing complex issues. Perhaps the most revealing insight about his entrenched behavioral patterns is how predictable they are — to us– his constituents –and to the rest of the world too.

It is his choice to continually amplify his behavioral patterns that suggest both a lack of emotional regulation and self-awareness.

Without self-awareness and the ability to manage our emotions, we often unknowingly lead from hurt, not heart. Not only is this a huge energy suck for us and the people around us, it creates distrust, disengagement, and an eggshell culture.@brenébrown

For some time now, I have wondered aloud why we hold our leaders accountable to different standards based solely on party affiliation. We can’t turn a blind eye and offer an excuse to a Republican leader if we condemn a Democratic leader for similar actions or deeds (and vice versa) Our lens should be crystal clear and in line with core values regardless of party affiliation. What keeps me up at night is fearing that we have normalized how we process truth thru the filter of party affiliation. This country will continue to flip flop our way into the future and into an abyss if we persist with this double standard. I’m confident that if a Democratic president had said or done some of things that Trump has, the reaction would be remarkably different. If I am wrong about that, then I am really frightened for our future.

In mindfulness we are taught to flip a situation and observe it just as we ordinarily would. This technique offers a fresh perspective and is a true litmus test for judgment and bias. Condoning the actions of one party and condemning the very same actions in the opposing party, is a classic example of the impact of judgment and bias when we use a party filter.

We seem to have lost respect and regard for the value of a bipartisan approach to leading our country. No one person and neither party has all the answers. Pitting us against each other and claiming one party is right and the other is all wrong is really getting old and we are losing traction. We are and always have been a diverse country with complex issues. We should be able to acknowledge and accept reality and start finding common ground.

It is nearly impossible not to have an acute awareness of the role divisiveness is playing in our country today. On 9-11-2001, I was in Scottsdale, Arizona where my husband was a key host for a major international banking conference. I witnessed firsthand the unfolding of the unified American spirit as my late husband and I drove across this great country from Arizona to Pennsylvania over the course of three days. That devastating tragedy brought us together in profound ways and we vowed never to forget.

This year our country faced another major crisis with the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. Oddly enough this crisis drove a wedge right through the heart of our great nation and divided us. It found our Achilles heel — political division.

Recently on 60 minutes, H. R. McMaster pointed out that the Chinese have been emboldened by the divisions in U.S. politics and the Russians similarly see opportunities at this moment. If the President really wanted to send a strong message to China about the strength and tenacity of our country, perhaps a different tact could have been deployed for our national response to COVID.

There was no unifying message, no universal plan of action. Blaming, confusion and wishful thinking left us to our own devices, state by state and individually. Politics found its way into every conversation around the pandemic and subsequent quarantine – from wearing masks to protests at state capitols and blaming governors on both sides for the decisions they made. Back in early March, we all had high hopes that come September we would be returning to our old familar routines. Such is not the case. Back in March I also naively believed that we had the potential to successfully deal with the pandemic and in turn reach out as a source of support and guidance for the rest of the world. Six months into this, we are country in a state of confusion and conflict. We are red, blue and bruised.

Political division not only has us fighting each other, we are fighting forward progress. This deserves serious attention.

Collectively we are all weary…. from 6 months of quarantine, almost 4 years of non-stop streaming over the latest tweet or move the President has made, from sadnesss over nearly 200,000 deaths of our fellow citizens, endless anxiety over racial injustices, political power plays, raging wildfires, blustering hurricanes and the ongoing uncertainty of our country’s direction.

We can’t be at our best under these conditions. We can’t be clear-minded, resourceful and resilient. And we need to be — because there will be yet another crisis to face – there always is. This is life.

Our elected officials at every level should be held accountable to a standard that serves our unified best interests for the present and our future. Compromise and courage go hand in hand. No company with a multi-generational history would have survived without sound leadership and a successful business succession plan. Our country deserves no less. We deserve no less.

When our children and grandchildren ask us years from now what we did in this moment in our history, what we were thinking, what mattered long term, how did we contribute — what will our answers be?

Resources worth reading and watching for some serious reflection:

The Social Dilemma (Netflix Documentary) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaaC57tcci0

Brene Brown Blog Post — Leading from Hurt vs. Leading from Heart https://brenebrown.com/blog/2018/12/04/leading-from-hurt-versus-leading-from-heart/

Our Next President: The Magnificent 7 Values https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-magnificent-values/story?id=20856736

Brene Brown Blog Post – Pressing on with Purpose https://brenebrown.com/blog/2020/08/31/pressing-on-with-purpose/

Brene Brown Blog Post – Dehumanizing Always Starts with Language https://brenebrown.com/blog/2018/05/17/dehumanizing-always-starts-with-language/

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