Wednesday, July 17, 2013

America's Pandemic

File Under: Inconvenient Truths

Mamie Till: "Two months ago I had a nice apartment in Chicago. I had a good job. I had a son. When something happened to the Negroes in the South I said, 'That's their business, not mine.' Now I know how wrong I was. The murder of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us, anywhere in the world, had better be the business of us all." (Source)

Does anyone know what is the leading cause of death in the United States of America?  I'm sure you can guess by the picture that it is not cancer, car accidents, or comorbidities of obesity.  It isn't violent crime either.  The number one killer is something called Cognitive Dissonance.  Cognitive Dissonance Theory, devised by Leon Festinger in 1956, is a fancy way of saying whenever we as humans are presented with information or facts that do not fit with our expectations of reality we feel very uncomfortable.  We do not like feeling uncomfortable; therefore, in order to create equilibrium something must change. To reduce dissonance there are three things people usually do:
  1. Focus on more supportive beliefs that outweigh the dissonant belief or behavior.
  2. Reduce the importance of the conflicting belief.
  3. Change the conflicting belief so that it is consistent with other beliefs or behaviors.
We "accentuate the positive," devalue our beliefs, tell ourselves it is not important, tell ourselves we like the thing that conflicts with us, and find other people to co-sign our new beliefs.  It is this process of "dissonance reduction" that is the killer, because it makes us believe things that are not true, hold onto beliefs that are unreasonable, not take beneficial action when we should, and take detrimental action when we should not.

How do you know if you are suffering from Cognitive Dissonance? Here are some tell-tale signs:
  • Is it 2013 and you are still smoking cigarettes?
  • Do you believe McDonald's and Pepsico made you fat?
  • Do you believe you are big-boned and not obese?
  • Do you believe I can _____ (drink/text) and drive safely?
  • Do you believe in "clean" coal?
  • Do you believe coal-burning factories contribute more pollution than automobiles?
  • Do you believe global warming is a myth?
  • Do you believe the Second Iraq War and the U.S. War in Afghanistan were warranted?
  • Do you believe George W. Bush and Barack Obama are NOT war criminals?
  • Do you believe the death of one black male is more outrageous than the death of thousands of Arabs, Muslims and Middle Easterners?
  • Do you believe the shooting of one black man by a non-black man is more outrageous than the hundreds of shootings of black men by other black men?
  • Do you believe that the uncharged, unindicted, unconvicted "terrorists" who are being held as political prisoners in Guantanamo Bay should starve, right along with the guilty?
  • Do you believe the USA PATRIOT Act was necessary?
  • Do you believe the Affordable Care Act is Constitutional and well-thought out?
  • Do you believe the provision in the NDAA allowing for indefinite detentions will never be applied to U.S. citizens?
  • Do you believe that Danny Manning and Edward Snowden are traitors?
  • Do you believe that genetically modified organisms are nothing to be concerned about?
  • Do you believe the War on Drugs is money well-spent?
  • Do you believe the War on Terror is winnable?
  • Do you believe the key to making human beings less violent is the regulation of inanimate objects?
  • Do you believe in pro-life but tacitly approve the murder, torture, and dehumanization of millions?
  • Do you believe in pro-choice but deny the choices of unborn children and their fathers?
  • Do you believe that Democrats are the party of the people or that Republicans believe in small government?
  • Do you believe that what side of the isle you sit on in Congress makes a difference?
  • Do you believe that the President or even the Congress controls the fate of the country?
  • Do you believe we are not all in the same sinking boat and those who control the life boats will decide who lives and who drowns based upon what you look like rather than what you can do for them?
  • Do you believe that problems are so vast, so big, and so long-standing that you couldn't possibly do anything about them?
If you answered yes, to any of these questions then you are suffering from Cognitive Dissonance and you are killing America.  Cognitive Dissonance is the disease; cancer, diabetes, stroke, violent deaths, poverty, racism, partisanship, warmongering -- those are the symptoms.  No matter how severe your case of Cognitive Dissonance is, it does not have to be a terminal affliction.  The world has shown America the path to the cure.  If Germans can bring down the Wall, if Russians can dismantle Communism, and if the Arab world can depose dictators and resist religious extremism, then we in the United States of America, the progenitors of modern democracy,  certainly can overcome the pandemic that is devouring us from the inside.
"Anytime there is insufficient reward, there will be dissonance.  The general principal seems to be that people come to believe in and love the things they have to suffer for." ~Leon Festinger

"Da Art Of Storytellin' (Part 2)" by Outkast from Aquemini released 1998 on LaFace

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