By Suzanne Deakins
As a student of mind and consciousness, I have learned that 90% of all decisions are made from our unconscious mind based on our early years’ experiences. Morality and ethics are perceived through the lens of our belief structure; we make decisions based on what we were taught is a good person, idea, and thought. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is crucial that we recognize what we must do to protect our democracy, ethical actions, and moral core of existence.
The day-to-day convictions of most of our fellow citizens can be divided into a moral division that we often see as the division between politically progressive (liberal) or conservative. This division is defined or depends on what you see as a good person and the right thing to do. Exploring deeper the concept of “good,” we can see this division as based on our understanding of family — what a good parent is to us. According to George Lakoff, the split of conservative and liberal can be compared to two kinds of parenting: strictness or nurturance. These qualities apply to morals and ethics in all facets of our life.
This division pertains to our thinking and understanding of family, morality, religion, and to our politics. As a nation, we do not have discourse on this aspect of the political division simply because these concepts reside in our cognitive unconscious and we are often not aware of the part they play in our day-to-day decisions and actions.
An example of this is how we see our parents. Parents are the first concept of God to a small child. A child cannot understand the abstraction of God, so in defining God they are told God gives all things. Everything a child receives comes from a parenting figure, thus if parenting figures are punitive and strict the child will grow into adulthood thinking that the source of life is punitive. Based on this understanding, political choices are made as well as religious ones. Political choices are made because a person chooses elected officials based on personal beliefs, rather than any abstract future presented by candidates during campaigns.
If we are to remain a democracy as a country we must come to grips with the profound divisions we see in the function of government, social programs (entitlements), accessibility of education, environmental issues, gun control, the death penalty, abortion, energy, civil rights, taxation and not least religious freedoms. The essential division in our beliefs about these issues can be reduced to strictness and nurturance.
In many ways, our country is in the middle of a parenting battle.
The conservative leadership has spent quite a bit of time and money defining the meaning of family, morality, education, and other topics of political division. Conservative platforms, bills, executive orders, and press releases are all delivered in language that adheres to the concept of strictness; they are presented as ideas that conservatives can perceive as common sense, and lack any room for critical thinking. The conservative platforms strictly adhere to the definitions put forth, leaving little wiggle room in the enacting of rules set down by government officials. This kind of thinking is what I call black and white, either /or thinking, a school of thought based on excluding any outlying thoughts or circumstances. For instance, to allow Trans people to choose the restroom that fits their identity, one must recognize that people fall outside of the strict definition of male or female. To the black and white mind, the concept of a Trans person is not conceivable, so it must force anything that deals with possible sexuality variations (from the strict sense of gender definition) to move back into the either/or mode of male or female.
We are a blend of many different ideas. We all are a blend of conservative and progressive thinking and beliefs. This is perhaps easier understood when we think of education. I am a progressive thinker and voter, but I still believe that education should air on a conservative side — teaching cursive handwriting skills and math without calculators. At the same time, I believe school-aged Trans children should choose which restrooms they want to use.
No division is ever black and white; there are nuances that lend shades of gray to our thinking. To understand our adversaries we must begin to understand the subtleties of language and consciousness. As we speak of the unconscious mind we are speaking of those beliefs we are not aware of playing a part in our life.
In many ways, our country is in the middle of a parenting battle. Conservative father (strictness) symbols outline how we are to live and behave while the liberal mother (nurturance) symbols struggle to feed and nurture our inclusion of the diversity of humanity. For those of us who are primarily liberals, the new administration feels abusive. The father sees its role as protection (for example, the travel ban and wall), but the attitude of exclusion feels abusive and non-nurturing to the liberal mind. Children need guidelines in which they can safely explore and learn (thus nurturing the soul of the child), but safe guidelines don’t need to be exclusive or abusive. To many of us, the soul of our country and democracy is immigration, that brings new ideas and diversity to our nation.
If we are to sustain our freedom and democracy as a progressive community we must quickly learn to define our concepts of morality and ethics in a way that presents them as common sense and as obtainable. We need parameters that keep us safe and yet allow us to grow and create in all our diversity. In many ways, it is a new way of thinking and educating our nemeses so they see the benefit and common sense of nurturing with parameters. Through community brainstorming, we must develop a vocabulary that expresses our ideals in a way that can be understood by the conservative mind. Discipline and parameters are a necessary part of creative growth, but they must be malleable in such a manner that we are not thrown into either/or thinking.
It is my belief that we can make truth an effective force for all humanity.
Suzanne Deakins, Ph.D. is a publisher (One Spirit Press and The Q Press) and author. Her books may be found on amazon.com. She teaches seminars on straight thinking and ontology, as well as Radical Forgiveness. She maybe reached at firstname.lastname@example.org