Times like these, when people feel threatened, can lead to some undesirable results. Let's talk a little about the flight or fight response. This is enacted whenever we feel under threat. Our body gets us ready to either flee the situation, or to fight and defend from danger.
The emotional equivalent of fight or flight is anger and fear. These are useful emotions as they protect us. However, they have some limiting effects. The fight or flight/anger or fear response is instinctive. As our brain goes into instinct mode we have our ability for rational thought limited. Most of us recognize, after the fact maybe, that in those anger or fear moments we just don't think as clearly.
There are some emotions that actually assist in tapping into that rational clear thinking. One of the best emotions for our brain and really our whole body is appreciation.
I refer to my post just previous on mountains and seas. Being able to to access those positive, sweet memories and feel appreciation for them is key in going forward. I hope we can all look for things we can appreciate and feel good about.
The tea parties and protests at the town halls are a response to the threat we are feeling to our freedoms. I think they are perfectly appropriate. But, I would caution against letting anger be the driving emotion. It’s okay to feel anger because it is an appropriate response to a threat. But, it’s also important as we go forward that we do so rationally. That means that anger or fear should not be the driving emotion, rather appreciation should be. We all appreciate this nation and our freedoms enough to fight for them. Let that thought be paramount.
We have seen the results of reacting with a less rational approach. I just finished reading American Progressivism edited by Ronald J. Pestritto and William J. Atto. It was honestly a hard read for me, because it was a bit of a shock to the system. The book is a collection of writings from early Progressives. Teddy Roosevelt was one of the biggest early champions of that movement. He was dissatisfied with the government and demanded reform. Some of his complaints sounded a lot like our complaints today, corruption and the deaf ear of politicians to their constituents. Teddy wanted some positive changes, but he went about it the wrong way. He wielded government power and control when there is so much that should have been turned over to the power of the people. By the way if you check out the Progressive party platform you will see that although they did not win the presidential election many of their platforms were put into place. It is, like I said, a little shocking to the system. Dissatisfaction and anger led to less rational thought and action and we are suffering the consequences resoundingly today.
Conservatives need to stick to Conservative principles of freedom, smaller government, and personal responsibility and so on. When leaders, who had some admirable goals, use government to inappropriately control their people, consequences will follow. The doors of liberalism opened by some were crashed down by leaders that followed. Teddy Roosevelt begat Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover begat Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George W. Bush begat Barack Obama. We have got to tread lightly as we look at what really needs to happen. We don't need reform as much as we need a restoration of principles of freedom.
I reflected upon my own recent thoughts as I prepared this post. Do we really need to hold a Constitutional Convention in order to make Congressional term limits law? My answer is maybe, if it comes to that. But, our founders were pretty darn smart in making Congress accountable via elections. What we ought to do first is look at how to more fully educate constituents in order to know what their representatives have been doing there in D.C. This is an example of looking at solutions more rationally.
Now as we air our very appropriate dissatisfaction we also ought to go forward with peace and appreciation in our hearts. For myself I'm going to be moving forward with an idea I wrote about in a previous post “What’s Great About America.”
While we look at what changes need to be made let us also look at what is great about America. We ought to do this in order to make sure the greatness remains undamaged. But, we also ought to do it so that gratitude and appreciation are part of the equation going forward.
I'm limited and as much as I'd like to travel the country and interview Americans discovering their greatness (for it is truly the people) I don't have the resources. But, I'm going to start in my own community. I don't know if it will go anywhere, but I'm still going to try.
Move forward with God and with appreciation.